Of course Portuguese food is broad and complex and varied between regions, like any cuisine.  But Peri-Peri, combined with chicken, perhaps contributes to the popular idea of ‘Portuguese Food’ in the UK more than any other recipe.  What better reason to make your own version at home?  The piri piri chili, which the Portuguese introduced to their colonies in India, Goa and Gujarat, originates from Africa, and is also known as a ‘bird’s eye chili.’  There are many versions of the popular Peri-Peri sauce, but it is typically characterised by the use of the (in)famous chili itself of course, along with lemon, oil and red bell peppers, with garlic, salt, lemon juice and zest, bay leaves, paprika, basil, oregano and tarragon all playing roles in its variants.  Try making your own Peri-Peri using a whole halal chicken (substituting the suggested vinegar, if you wish).  We love the grated ginger addition, the allspice and the dominance of oregano, which is pungent and balsamic.  This is an impressive but simple recipe, which looks mouthwatering on a plate.  Throw on some lemon wedges and handfuls of fresh herbs, and serve with rice.

Portuguese Steak

The Portuguese steak, bife, is a slice of fried beef served in a sauce with fried potatoes, rice, or salad, often topped with a runny golden egg, in which case it is called bife a cavalo, where the egg is ‘on horseback.’  The sauce is usually wine-based but try instead a rich halal beef stock for an intense flavour.  You can achieve the acidic edge with a splash of citrus or vinegar.  Use a halal sirloin steak and marinate overnight in garlic, stock, black pepper, parsley and salt.  The key is the heavy cream used for the sauce, the basis of which is the remaining marinade.  Fry the steak to your taste, add the reserved marinade, whisk in the cream and cook the steaks for a few minutes more till the sauce thickens.  Have your eggs ready in a separate pan to sit on top of the meat, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve with rice or potatoes.  You can slice the potatoes thinly and cook them in olive oil in the oven, and place them around the steak in a ring, or roast the potatoes in quarters with black olives, paprika and lemon juice.

Winter Stews

Portuguese cuisine is big on stews.  Their winter food is hearty, rich and warming.  A lot of the traditional stews contain pork or pork products alongside other meats, but you can still work up a nourishing halal Portuguese stew from other staple ingredients, such as halal chicken or beef, with white kidney beans, onions and the ever-important Portuguese green leaf: kale. Make a base with tinned tomatoes and halal meat stock and add paprika, cumin, black pepper and lots of garlic.  Leave to cook slowly so the meat becomes extra-tender, and enjoy the steaming stew over a few days.  You can thicken the soup with potatoes, or substitute the white beans for broad beans (fava beans).  Don’t forget to molhar, that is, ‘soak up’ the leftover soup with a slice or two of crunchy, white bread.

Egg Custard Tarts

They are flakey and sweet and soft and creamy.  They’re easy to make and guarantee popularity.  Find a simple, delicious, traditional recipe here.  Enjoy with a nice strong coffee.

Bom apetite!