Who needs Nando’s? This piri piri chicken recipe is definitely a winner-winner – and it’s diet-friendly too
Beloved of kids and students, a cheeky Nando’s is now a familiar part of the British culinary landscape. And compared to many High Street food outlets, it’s possible to eat reasonably healthily there, as long as you keep it as an occasional treat and can trust yourself to swerve the fries… and the mayo… and the garlic bread… and the big portions… and the puddings.
So instead of scouring the menu in search of healthy options, why not bring the spicy tang of Nando’s to your own dinner table, saving both calories and cash?
This piri piri chicken recipe is just as packed with flavour as the commercial version, thanks to chillies, peppers, (a whopping FIVE cloves of) garlic, hot paprika, smoked paprika, oregano, turmeric, rice vinegar, salt and pepper.
But what it gains in flavour, it lacks in fat; marinated overnight and cooked in minimal oil. The sauce is versatile too – use it with a firm white fish, or with tofu or halloumi for a vegetarian alternative.
It’s all part of the dieting secret of dialing up the flavour without loading up the fat. No wonder this African/Caribbean/Portuguese favourite has become such a firm favourite on British tables. All you need to do is decide how hot you dare to go!
Piri piri chicken
SERVES 4 • Ready in 30 mins + chill overnight
2 bird’s eye chillies, top removed
1 red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp hot paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp mild chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
50ml olive oil
4 tbsp black rice vinegar
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 x 150-g chicken breast fillets
• Place the chillies, red pepper and garlic in a food processor or blender and blitz until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, spices, salt, olive oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Blend again until you have a smooth paste.
• Cut the chicken breasts in half widthways, making two fat pieces. Make a cut about 2.5cm long into the thickest part of each chicken piece. This flattens the chicken slightly allowing it to cook quicker and makes a simple butterfly shape. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour over the marinade.
• Rub the marinade all over the chicken, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5. Heat a wide, heavy-based frying pan to a very high temperature. Shake off the excess marinade and place in the hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes each side, just to seal the chicken pieces rather than cook them right through.
• Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and smooth over a little more marinade. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/120°C fan/275°/gas mark 1 and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
• Place the remaining marinade in a small pan with about 100ml water and simmer for about 5–10 minutes until thickened. Serve the chicken with the sauce on the side and a crisp salad.
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