The African Bird’s Eye Chili, also known as “piri piri” or “pili-pili”, grows on a dense bush of the Solanaceae family. The chilies themselves are several inches long and their cultivation requires substantial manual input. The bitter pods start out green, but when they are ready to be picked they turn to a bright violet-red. Originating in Madagascar, this chili is widely used in Africa, but it is in fact nothing other than the fruit of the Capsicum frutescens plant, which also grows in the tropical forests of Sudan and was imported into Europe by Portuguese colonists.
Sambava Épices produces a high-quality African Bird’s Eye Chili in his own farm located in the southern uplands of Madagascar. On the Scoville scale, it measures between 100,000 and 350,000 SHA. Given its spiciness, it is favored by those with more robust palates. To begin with, it may seem difficult to judge how much to use, but once you have experimented with it, it soon becomes a crucial ingredient.
Sakay (chili) is a staple of Madagascar cooking. Together with oil, it is used as a seasoning for vegetables, meat and fish. Strongly flavored pili-pili sauce is prepared by blending pili- pili chili, lemon (or vinegar), oil, red chili and garlic. The dense, colorful sauce works wonders on oven-roasted chicken, Italian-style “devil” chicken and octopus; pili-pili is also a great accompaniment for fresh goat’s cheese and white meat. Recommended quantity: one pinch of powder for every 4 diners.
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