Obsession is a dangerous thing to have and once you get something in your head, it is impossible to let go of. For me, recreating restaurant recipes at home is one such obsession and at times, it drives me to the edge of insanity.
Nando’s Peri-bites has been an OCD of mine ever since I first tried it some five years back. These are deep-fried green chilies stuffed with a succulent, cheesy chicken filling that just melts in your mouth (and sets it ablaze). A few years back, I successfully created a Peri-bites recipe that tasted much better than the original; there were two problems I consistently faced:
- the coating kept falling off
- the filling kept oozing out
Not all chilies were affected, though, but a sizeable percentage (around 60-70%) had one or both of these flaws. Therefore, I kept on going back to Nando’s for my Peri-bites fix – my fellow Peri-junkies should be able to relate to this. On one of my more recent visits to Nando’s, I found several issues with my appetizer:
- lack of chicken in the filling
- the taste was a bit ‘off’
- the coating wasn’t as crisp as it should be
With a broken heart and a huge disappointment (that would put Mt. Everest to shame), I put my culinary skills to the test and gave the recipe one more try. This recipe that I’m about to share is an absolute 110% improvement on the Nando’s original. I promise you will not be disappointed with the results.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4 people
- 1 medium egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ tablespoon corn flour
- ¾ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups bread crumbs (for dry coat)
- ½ chicken breast (1-inch strips)
- 2 teaspoon peri-peri sauce for cooking (hot or wild flavor)
- 1 tablespoon peri-peri sauce for mixing in
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoon grated mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon grated cheddar
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 8-10 green chilies (approx. 3-4 inches in length – use banana peppers for a milder flavor)
- Canola oil (for deep-frying)
- In a sauce pan, put a teaspoon of oil and add the chicken breast
- Mix in the peri-peri sauce once the chicken is tender and turn off the heat after cooking for a minute; let the chicken cool
- After the chicken has cooled, add in cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar, mozzarella, and peri-peri sauce; mix well
- To fill the chilies, make a T-shaped incision from the base of the chili (as shown in the picture below) and take out the seeds
- Take about 1-2 teaspoon of the chicken filling (make sure there are chicken chunks in each portion) and stuff it gently into the chili; do not over stuff as the incision may not close and the filling may come out during frying
- In a bowl, mix the egg, milk, corn flour and all-purpose flour
- Dip each stuffed chili into the egg mix and roll it into the bread-crumbs; repeat this step twice for each chili
- Put a pan with oil on medium heat for deep-frying
- Gently drop each chili into the oil; try not to touch them for a minute to let the coating stick to the chili
- Cook them for a few more minutes till the chilies are crisp and golden
- Serve them immediately with a peri-peri sauce of your liking!
So what are you waiting for? Get started on a batch right away; it’s sure to knock your socks off and set your head steamin’. I hope you enjoy this recipe; comments would be appreciated!
Ramadan is finally upon us, and with it, the culinary experiences we typically associate with this holy month. The activity in and around the kitchen increases significantly, owing to the maddening aromas emanating from the kitchen right around iftaar (time to break the fast). Family members who usually don’t even bother with the food-prep start hovering around to see what’s on the menu.
I belong to a family of food-lovers. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother planning her iftaar menu weeks before Ramadan. I still remember how she wrote everything on a wall calendar; everything from appetizers to desserts. She made rainbow-colored jelly eggs and lip-smacking kukray (D-shaped samosas with mung daal and minced meat filling), always on the hunt for new recipes to try. Watching her make those things was the highlight of my day and I have only her to thank for my culinary passion.
The Ramadan dastarkhwan (floor mats/carpets on which food is served) is empty without a selection of appetizers. I know of some families who absolutely positively need to have samosas and pakoras at iftaar, whereas others try different things. Luckily, I belong to the latter group. For me, an appetizer is the most important course, as it is the first thing you attack after breaking the fast. Thinking about first impressions, it can make or break your entire dining experience.
This Ramadan, I shall be sharing with you some appetizers handed down to me and others acquired along the way. The first entrant in this series is Box Patties. These perfect squares, created using samosa strips, are filled with a savory shredded chicken mixture that instantly satiates your spice cravings.
Prep time: 35 minutes for the filling and the box patties + 4 minutes for frying (per batch)
Yields: 18-20 patties
Serving size: 2 patties per person
- 250 grams chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon green chili paste
- 1 tsp salt (for chicken)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 medium potato (boiled and diced)
- 1 medium green bell pepper (capsicum – diced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (stirred in with 1 tablespoon water – for filling)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (for filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for paste)
- 1 cup water
- 40-50 samosa pastry strips
- Add chicken, ginger paste, garlic paste, green chili paste, salt (for chicken) and water to a pot and cook it till the chicken is tender and the water has dried up
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it and keep it aside
- Heat butter in a pan and add the green bell peppers to it; stir-fry for 1 minute
- Add soy sauce, salt (for filling), black pepper and red chili flakes to the capsicum and stir for a minute
- Add potatoes and the shredded chicken and mix it well
- Finally, add the flour and water mixture to the chicken; mix it immediately to prevent the flour from turning the filling too sticky
- Cook for a minute before turning the stove off
- In a bowl, mix the flour (for paste) in water; microwave for 40-50 seconds to get a thick glue-like consistency
- Fold the box patties as instructed in the video
- Deep fry in hot oil till the patties are crisp and golden-brown
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
Note: Ramadan is an ideal time to get in touch with your spiritual self, but sometimes, we just get too fixated on food and what to make for iftaar. I prefer making these appetizers in a larger batch and freezing them; they can be used for up to 15 days. This will give you plenty of time to reflect on yourself and significantly lessen your kitchen workload.
Please remember me in your prayers!
A new and improved Peri bites recipe is available on this link!
Nando’s has taken grilled chicken to a whole new level and the secret’s in their sauce. But eating at Nando’s can put a nifty dent in your pocket. Thankfully, the sauces are readily available at any good grocery store and/or hyper market.
Like my fellow bird lovers, I go to Nando’s for the best grilled chicken on the planet, but to truly whip up an appetite and to get the taste of what’s to come, you have to order the Peri Bites. These mouth-watering chilies are deep-fried with a crisp coat, and have a cheesy center with a little chunk of their famous peri-basted chicken. For those unlucky few who live in a country where Nando’s doesn’t serve these treats, here’s a pocket-friendly way to try these out within the confines of your own homes.
- ½ chicken breast
- 2 tsp peri-peri sauce (hot or wild flavor)
- ½ tsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp grated cheese (cheddar or mozzarella or one tbsp each)
- 8-10 green chilies (approx. 3 inches in length)
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 1 cup bread crumbs (for coating)
- 1 cup milk (for coating)
- A piping bag with the long nozzle (thin opening) or a sterile syringe (with the needle removed)
- Take the chicken breast and cut it into small ½ inch pieces
- Put cooking oil in a frying pan, add the chicken and the peri-peri sauce, and cook until the chicken is tender (approx. 80% cooked)
- In another sauce pan, heat the milk and add the cheese to it; when the texture is nice and smooth, let it sit till it reaches room temperature
- Mix in the mayonnaise to the cheese sauce and fill it up in the piping bag or syringe
- Using a knife, carefully make a cut perpendicular to the base of the chilies, 1 to 1.5 cm in length; remove the seeds with caution without tearing the chili surface
- Insert one chicken chunk into each chili followed by a small quantity of the cheese sauce using a piping bag or syringe
- Keep these chilies in the freezer for 1 hour
- Now mix the egg white in a separate bowl and pour it on top of the chilies; also mix in the flour, salt and pepper into the mix and coat all the chilies evenly
- Roll each chili in bread crumbs, followed by a dip in the milk and back into the bread crumbs for a nice, thick coat
- Once all chilies are done, put them in the freezer for another 15 minutes so that the coating can settle properly
- Deep fry in very hot oil until they have a nice golden coat
- Serve immediately with peri-peri sauce, tomato ketchup or mayonnaise
The image above shows the results I got from my first attempt and I know I did a sloppy job on the coating, but you can do better; believe me. I hope you enjoy these insane appetizers as much as I did deconstructing them.