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Piri piri peppers (ripe red and unripe green)
Piri piri (// PEE-ree-PEE-ree, also spelled peri peri, pili pili), also called African bird's eye chili, is a cultivar of Capsicum frutescens, one of the sources of chili pepper that grows both wild and domesticated.
It is a small member of the Capsicum genus. It grows in Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the tropical forests of South Sudan & the southern half of Ethiopia. It was brought to Goa by the Portuguese.
Piri piri is the Swahili word for 'pepper pepper'. Other English language spellings may include pili pili in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or peri peri in Malawi, deriving from the various pronunciations of the word in parts of Bantu languages-speaking Africa. Piri piri is the spelling of the name as used in the Portuguese language, namely in the Portuguese-speaking Mozambican community.
The Oxford Dictionary of English records "piri-piri" as a foreign word meaning "a very hot sauce made with red chilli peppers" and giving its origin as the Ronga language of southern Mozambique word for "pepper".
Plants are usually very bushy and grow in height to 45–120 centimeters, with leaves 4–7 cm long and 1.3–1.5 cm wide. The fruits are generally tapered to a blunt point and measure up to 8 or 10 centimeters long. Immature pod color is green, mature color is bright red or purple. Some varieties of birdseye measure up to 175,000 Scoville heat units.
Like all chili peppers, piri piri is descended from South American cultivars, but Piri piri has grown in the wild in Africa for centuries and is now cultivated commercially in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. It grows mainly in Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It is cultivated for both commercial food processing and the pharmaceutical industry. Cultivation of piri piri is labor intensive.
Piri piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin and "especially prevalent in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa". It is made from crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.
Recipes vary from region to region but the common ingredients will be the chilli, lemon, oil, red bell peppers and garlic. Today it can be easily made in a blender.