Portuguese Piri Piri Oil Recipe

Piri Piri Oil is one of the most important and significant contributions that the Portuguese made to Culinary world and this recipe makes sure your food gets an extra fiery and flavoury kick.

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A staple in every self-respected and patriotic Portuguese kitchen, Piri Piri Oil is the prodigy child of the Portuguese Discovery Ages, and the start of the globalization of world food cuisine introduced by Global scale trade. I have bared witness to this influence first hand in my latest travels to the Arabic Kingdom of Bahrain and in my Photographic Tour of India.

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Originally found in Mexico and all over Central America, chillies were introduced to the Western and the Eastern World by the Portuguese circa the 1500’s.  If you consider that this simple gesture gave way to the basis of  Indian Cuisine, as you can’t make a good curry without chillies, and the whole of the spicy Southeast Asian Cuisine, namely the Thai and Vietnamese .

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More so, as  the Ambassador to the Blogging Community for APTECE – The Portuguese Food Travel Association , I get the chance to learn more about Portuguese Food Storytelling. And remember that as Julio says “A good Piri Piri Oil should only burn on the outside of your mouth and not the inside”

Tip: Get an old bottle to give the Portuguese Piri Piri Oil a more vintage look !

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Ingredients for Portuguese Piri Piri Oil per 250ml (1 cup) serving:

4 Medium sized fresh Piri Piri chillies with seeds

8 Large dried Piri Piri chillies

3 Large garlic cloves

3 Tablespoons of whiskey

1 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest

1 Tablespoon of Lemon juice

2 Tablespoon of Red Wine vinegar

5/6 Bay leaves

1 Teaspoon of Coarse salt

1 Tablespoon of Black Pepper Corns

250 ml of extra Virgin olive oil

Preparation of Portuguese Piri Piri Oi

Arrange a 350ml bottle and sterilize it.  Remove the green stems from the fresh chillies and chop the chillies roughly. Peel the garlic.

Crush the dried chillies, the remaining bay leaves and some more raw garlic, in case you like the Piri Piri Oil to be more garlicky; like me! Use a funnel to insert the crushed items inside the bottle.

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Lightly pulse the chillies and garlic in the food processor or just chop them very finely on the chopping board. Avoid making a paste as this will destroy the texture and oxidate the garlic and the chillies very quickly! Plus it looks better in the bottle then a dark mash deposit.

If you are doing more than one bottle as I am showing in this example you have to work in batches. Heat up a saucepan, ( big enough to hold the 250mls of olive oil)  and lightly saute the garlic, the chillies and the bay leaves with a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat. Add the whisky and turn the heat to low.

Add the lemon zest and juice, the vinegar, the salt, the peppercorns and the rest of the olive oil.  Let the heat go through the olive oil until it begins to bubble and infuse the flavours. When it starts to smell good remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two.

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When the olive oil has cooled down a bit, use the same funnel to pour in the olive oil and all its contents into the bottle. The whole bottle will become instantly hot so be careful when  handling it without gloves. Cover with a cork while the oil is hot to ensure a tight seal and leave for about a week for the flavours to settle and mellow down.

Use the Portuguese Piri Piri Oil on all your Mediterranean foods, especially grills and seafood to give it that extra fiery kick of flavours.

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I dedicate my award winning travel writing and photography to the soul and sense of place of the locations I visit, the people I meet and the food I taste.
  • Very interesting… and awesome pictures.. Yes now the Indian food uses a lot of Chillies, and it is impossible to imagine Indian food without chillies but the purists still use the Gold Standard of spices the ” Black Pepper” in the authentic kitchens, to make the food hot. I think the spread of Chilles was due to the fact they were so easy to grow and offered a very economical way to make food hot, without burning a hole in your roof ( the black pepper was that expensive in those days)….

    • Yes, Prasad you are absolutely right! But chillies can give food a whole new dimension and depth in flavour that Black Pepper cant. Yet, this recipe calls for black pepper and chillies, so those Portuguese Sure knew what they were doing… Hugs

  • Amazing photos Nelson, very impressed, this post make me a bit hungry 🙂

  • Nelson,
    Great post. If I had time to make Piri Piri oil, I would do so all day. As it is now, I’ve spent more time than I can spare figuring out Disqus, so I will have to be satisfied reading about it, and viewing the amazing photos.

    • Hi John. Thank you so much for your comment. It is always good to read such truthful words and I please let me know how it tastes when you make the Piri Piri oil.

  • teste

  • I like this recipe. Sorry I didn’t run into this oil when in Portugal, but I was really only there for the wine (lucky me!) I make a Galician oil with garlic, onion and papricas for use on just about everything, and harissa using piri piri peppers. I think this Piri Piri oil would be a nice addition to my kitchen – thanks for the recipe.

    • Hi Richard

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Can you share with me the recipe for your galician oil. Would want to try it !

      • Put 2 liters of the best olive oil you can afford

        in a saucepan on med heat. Add 110mg paprika (in a mixture of hot and sweet to suite your taste – I use 10 hot) 2 whole heads of garlic cut in half along the equator and one large whole peeled onion. Bring just to a gentle boil and reduce heat to gently simmer for awhile – at least 4-5 hours. I cook mine on a wood stove so it simmers overnight. Allow to cool completely. Carefully remove garlic and onion, taking great care not to stir up the paprika which has settled to the bottom. Strain, discarding the last little bit with the paprika in it. (the paprika will make it bitter, so really be careful.) If I see paprika settled to the bottom of the new bottle I gently strain it again, discarding the last little bit. Cap and set next to your other oils and vinegars for use on many things. In Galicia (Spain) it is served drizzled over potatoes and seafood. I cook shrimp on a pan oiled with it, and drizzle it on ciabatta bread before I bake it (foccacia too!) It can be used as your everyday oil – a traditional Galician peasant oil. I’m told it will last 6 months to a year in the NE USA, but I always use it up before then so I can’t really say. ENJOY!

        • I will try this one too :))))

          • Cool!

          • There’s a recipe in this month’s Bon Appetite for making a salad dressing by boiling the oil and paprika for 10 mins and straining it when cool. Then adding seasonings. They just don’t get it.

          • Please show-me the link for this atrocity!

          • no link – sorry – I read the magazine this morning. I’ll try to find the page (in the 80s I believe)

          • CORRECTION – I wrote this from memory, but when I went home I checked. Please change to one gal of oil, 110 grams paprika and 5 heads of garlic. It is still just one onion.

          • Great Thanks|

  • I made this:) though with amendments – I didn’t cook the ingredients (I know, it would mix the flavours), just mix them all in the bottle (lack of time) – but it’s still awesome!!! I will try to do next one according to the recipe.

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  • Ali

    Nelson,

    How long does this oil last. And how do you recommend applying it to foods? After grilling or before?

  • Paulo Rodrigues

    I have recommended this article to many people, especially to those who follow special diets or are vegetarians. Whenever they mention that they are tired of the food they eat, need something to pump it up, I tell them to use piri piri olive oil.