I think I’ve mentioned before that I participate in this fun blog hop called Cook Around the Globe.
In this one, the owner of the blog hop will pick a country or region and then we attempt dishes from that region.
This time she picked West Africa which I admit I’m extremely unfamiliar with. I’ve eaten and enjoyed Ethiopian at restaurants but once we start heading to Sierra Leone, Senegal and Mozambique I’m completely at a loss.
But hey, it’s a new adventure right?
A few weeks ago I had actually made a West African inspired stew but ended up not posting it. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t particularly good either; it just kind of…was. So you can imagine my trepidation at attempting another West African dish whether it was Western, Eastern, or Northern!
So I settled on making piri-piri by way of Mozambique which is a sauce named after a local chili, piri or pili as its called, known for its heat. Usually piri-piri is used as a sauce afterward, but I wanted to marinate the chicken and really give it a chance to absorb some of the flavor.
The salad is inspired by a Sengalese recipe and acts as a cooling counterpoint to the spicy piri-piri.
I ended up using a package of dried hot New Mexican chilies since for whatever reason my grocery randomly didn’t have fresh. As a bonus though, it makes it way more accessible to people who want to give this recipe a shot.
12 hours of the prep time is marinating or inactive time. Once the chicken is marinated the rest of the recipe goes together in a flash.
- 10 – 12 dried hot New Mexican chilies (for less heat, use the mild kind and make sure to remove all of the seeds)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- ½ Tbsp white wine vinegar (or if you’re out of it like me use rice vinegar)
- ½ Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cups cooked rice (I used brown basmati)
- 2 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 small avocado, diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
- 1 hard boiled egg, peeled and diced
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced cilantro,
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the dried chilies in a large glass bowl. Pour boiling water over chilies and weigh down with a plate to ensure the peppers have fully submerged. Allow to sit for 45 minutes until rehydrated and cool enough to handle.
- Pound chicken until about 1/8 – ¼ inch thick.
- Drain water. Put on gloves (highly recommended so you don’t get a hot pepper burn!) Cut the stems off cooled chilies, and shake out seeds if you want less heat. Roughly chop (or just use your hands to pull apart). Place into food processor.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onion for 2 – 3 minutes or until softened. Add in garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute or until fragrant. Pour into food processor, including any oil in the pan.
- Add the rest of ingredients (lime juice through salt) into food processor and process until smooth. Allow to cool then place chicken in marinade and marinate overnight.
- When it’s time to cook the chicken, preheat grill to medium/medium high. Cook for 6 – 7 minutes per side or until 170 degrees F. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving over rice.
- Combine lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper and mix until well combined.
- Toss dressing with avocado, tomato and hard boiled egg.
- Place salad on top of chopped lettuce.
When I originally made this I used 5 hot New Mexican chilies and 5 mild New Mexican chilies and kept all of the seeds. For my tastes, it was extremely mild and the spirit of piri-piri sauce is hot and spicy.
Next time I make this (and I’ll definitely make this again), I’ll use all hot New Mexican chilies and may even throw in a fresh habanero to really kick it up.
The salad doesn’t sound like the most appetizing but it was surprisingly tasty for such a simple mix. The creaminess from the egg works really well with the rest of the ingredients.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this dinner (and the lunches it made for the next day).