PERi-PERi Paradise: Nando’s Takes Dallas By Storm

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Nando's PERi-PERi
Exterior of Nando's PERi-PERi in Dallas, Texas, Photo Credit: Jennifer Boomer

Nando’s PERi-PERi stands as a culinary sensation that traces its roots back to South Africa. Central to their cultural legacy is the African Bird’s Eye Chili, locally known as PERi-PERi, which is grown in African soil. This legendary chili is not just an ingredient – it’s a natural preservative that defines Nando’s signature sauce. As the heart and soul of Nando’s, this sauce has journeyed from Mozambique to South Africa and beyond, encapsulating centuries of rich culinary history and cultural fusion. With the recent opening of Nando’s PERi-PERi in Dallas, they are inviting patrons to indulge in the flavors and partake in the culinary journey.

The Essence of PERi-PERi

The inspiration for Nando’s PERi-PERi traces back to when the Portuguese explored the spice route, landing in Mozambique. They introduced a style of cooking, featuring spatchcock chicken, blending it with South African PERi-PERi spices. In South Africa, Nando’s collaborates with over a thousand small-scale farmers who grow their chilies. These chilies are handpicked, sun-dried, and then utilized to create their marinades and sauces.

Nando’s PERi-PERi is known for its commitment to natural ingredients. PERi-PERi is a versatile recipe used throughout South Africa, where individuals create their versions. The core ingredients typically include lemon, garlic, salt, and vinegar, providing a distinct flavor.

Nando's PERi-PERi
Flame-grilled PERi-PERi Double Chicken Leg, Wings, Skewers, and 1/4 Chicken Breast, Courtesy of Nando’s PERi-PERi

“Central to this recipe is the PERi-PERi African bird’s eye chili, which maintains its natural essence,” Krista McLay, Director of Brand Marketing says. “This chili is widely available, from Whole Foods to Walmart. Notably, Whole Foods exclusively features natural ingredients, which aligns with the standards that make our sauces accessible in various retail outlets.”

The unique flavor profile of Nando’s signature sauces traces back to the farmers who cultivate African bird’s eye chili plants. After handpicking, the chilies are sun-dried and ground into powder. After this, they process at a plant where all the sauces and marinades are made. 

“These authentic products originate from South Africa and are distributed globally,” Krista explains. “The sauces you experience contain real African bird’s eye chili. The chicken is marinated for 24 hours, always fresh and never frozen. Grilled to order, you can choose the sauce and flavor preference, and the chicken is then marinated in that chosen sauce, which adds a personalized touch to each dish.”

Nando’s Commitment to Sustainability

Nando’s PERi-PERi holds a commendable commitment to sustainability, with over 1,400 farmers involved in the cultivation of PERi-PERi across nearly 500 acres in South Africa. Nando’s must know the origin of their PERi-PERi as it forms the core and soul of their identity. Recognizing the importance of finding farmers with land and potential, they embarked on a journey of growth together. 

“We provide support and have been teaching them how to cultivate PERi-PERi, assist with necessary structures, and ensure their access to accessible equipment,” Krista says. “Our dedicated team actively guides them through the cultivation process. To secure their future, we wanted to guarantee a fixed price for their crop, as well as offer stability and support to these farmers and their communities. Each year, we conduct an Impact Study where our team engages with the farmers on-site. This initiative allows us to understand and measure the positive impact we’ve had on their lives!”

Mozambique holds historical significance in the cultivation of PERi-PERi. The country played a pivotal role as a step in the spice route, where Portuguese southerners landed. Interestingly, the primary language in Mozambique today is Portuguese, as it reflects the cultural influence of those early Portuguese settlers. The fusion of cultures occurred as they introduced the Spatchcock chicken and marinated it with the distinctive PERi-PERi flavor. As Mozambique is right next to South Africa, it has significantly contributed to the growth and popularity of the PERi-PERi flavor throughout South Africa. 

Nando’s Welcoming Atmosphere

The design and decor of Nando’s PERi-PERi locations are known to showcase the Southern African culture. Each of their restaurants boasts a unique design and ensures no two are identical while sharing similar interests. Nando’s incorporates captivating Capulana fabric that is visible on various touchpoints such as booths and soft furnishings. 

“Our commitment to beauty and natural aesthetics is reflected in the use of real wood and genuine leather,” Krista says. “We also provide striking elements like clay tiles and vibrant artwork originated from South Africa.” 

Nando's PERi-PERi
Interior of Nando’s PERi-PERi in Dallas, Texas, Photo Credit: Jennifer Boomer

Collaborating with South African designers, Nando’s acquires and showcases their unique creations. These pieces are carefully selected, purchased, and shipped from Southern Africa. 

“Nando’s takes pride in holding the title of the world’s largest collector of contemporary Southern African art, which amasses an impressive collection of 25,000 original and one-of-a-kind pieces,” Krista says. “In our restaurants, you can experience the diversity of Southern African art through various pieces crafted by talented artists we collaborate with.”

Nando's PERi-PERi
Bar Counter of Nando’s PERi-PERi in Dallas, Texas, Photo Credit: Jennifer Boomer

Nando’s offers a distinctive dining experience with hosted counter service and help-yourself condiment stations. The concept revolves around self-service, empowering guests to help themselves to as much PERi-PERi as they desire. This extends to beverages as well, where guests can freely fill up at their drink machine. 

“Our goal is to encourage people to explore the restaurant, immerse themselves in the experience, and truly engage their senses,” Krista says. “As you move through the space, you can witness the fire on the grill and savor the aroma while hearing the cackling flames. Our intentional setup encourages guests to interact with different people and share an experience throughout their dining journey.  The entire design is crafted to ensure that when you dine with us, you not only enjoy the flavors but also the dynamic atmosphere of the entire restaurant!”  

Nando’s PERi-PERi is a culinary masterpiece that intertwines flavors, cultures, and stories. With each restaurant providing a unique experience, Nando’s encourages patrons to indulge in the flavors and embrace cultural diversity while partaking in the immersive PERi-PERi journey. Dallasites are invited to explore the newly opened Nando’s PERi PERi location at Village on the Parkway, where culinary excellence and heritage converge for an unforgettable dining experience!