Ever since I first tried Nando’s some ten years back, I have been obsessed with the global phenomenon that is peri-peri; just thinking about the tangy-spicy flavor gets my mouth watering. I have been searching far and wide for the secret behind the peri-peri sauce, the infamous ‘African Birds-eye Chilies’ (a.k.a. piri-piri), so that I can try making the sauce at home, but until I do, I’ll have to settle for some store-bought (read uber-expensive) Nando’s sauce.
Ramadan is a time to thank Allah for all the bounties he has bestowed upon us; it is also a time for specially prepared feasts and platters full of delicacies to be shared with everyone (especially those less fortunate). After not having anything to eat or drink for almost fifteen hours daily, your mind naturally tends to think about food (a lot) and you cannot help but obsess over what needs to be cooked for the iftar (breaking of the fast at sunset). While fasting a few days back, I started lusting for some peri-peri goodness and thought of trying something new using the sauce as a key ingredient. Here’s what I came up with and believe me, it turned out fantastic; easy to make, perfectly crunchy, spicy and cheesy. It’s everything you’d want in a dish to satiate your Ramadan cravings.
This recipe here serves THREE people.
- 2 chicken breasts (cut horizontally into ½-inch thick fillets)
- 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp Nando’s Hot peri peri sauce (you can choose to go for mild)
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp milk
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 4-5 slices of cheese (alternatively, you can go for a shredded mozzarella + cheddar combo instead for that rich thready texture)
- 3-4 cups oil (for frying)
- Put the chicken fillets along with THREE tablespoons of peri-peri sauce into a bowl and mix well, ensuring that each piece is coated perfectly
- Set it up in the refrigerator for TWO to THREE hours to marinate; this step can be reduced to half-an-hour too but two to three hours gives the best results (taste-wise)
- Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl to make an egg-wash
- Take two plates and fill one with flour (add salt and pepper as seasoning to the flour) and the other with the bread crumbs
- Take a piece of chicken and coat it with the flour; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
- Next, dip the chicken into the egg-wash; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
- Finally, take the egg-washed chicken and drop it into the crumbs; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
- Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 till all pieces have been coated properly
- Set it aside for FIFTEEN minutes to air-dry
- Here you actually have a choice: you can either (a) pan sear the chicken using a few tablespoons of olive oil or (b) deep fry it on medium heat till the chicken is tender and has a crisp-golden coat on either side – I prefer the deep-fried version
- As soon as you take the chicken cutlet out of the pan, add a slice of cheese (or the shredded combo) on top to allow it to melt
- In a separate bowl, mix two tablespoons of peri-peri sauce with cream cheese and mayonnaise to make the sauce; add some milk if you want to adjust the consistency
- Spread some sauce at the base of a plate and put the chicken cutlet on top
- Other garnish options include jalapenos, olives, spiced feta cheese, and even some tomato ketchup (if you’re really that into it)
- On the side, you can choose to add french fries or Peri Bites
All my Muslim readers will agree with me that coming up with something tantalizing (and different) for iftar each day is something we all fret over. Hopefully, this recipe will give you a much-needed additional option and will earn you some praise from children and adults alike. Enjoy!