Piri Piri (African Bird’s Eye Chile) Scoville Heat Units: How Hot is It?


The Piri piri, also called the African Bird’s
Eye chile, the African Devil, or peri peri, with an “e,” or pili pili, is a favorite chile
in East Africa, and is also grown in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and other parts of
Africa. They use this pepper to make super hot sauces that are bottled and used on all
sorts of foods. It’s a cousin of the tabasco chile, and the Thai peppers, and came from
the American continent, and must have been transported from America to Africa. It is
also found in Portugal, and is a favorite there, and the Portuguese may have been responsible
for bringing it to Africa, to Mozambique and Angola. The name piri piri is Swahili for
“pepper pepper.” In Portugal, the name Piri Piri also refers to a sauce that is made from
the peppers. This small pepper and it’s cousins are members
of a group of peppers called frutescens, but that are commonly called “bird peppers” or
“wild bird peppers.” These peppers are very hot, but various ratings have been given.
Many sources report 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units, which makes sense, since that’s
about the same as a tabasco chile. However, more commonly, a range of 50,000 to 175,000
is given. Being that the sauces made from it are sometimes called “Hell Sauce,” the
latter rating is likely to be correct. It is possible that many other similar peppers
could be confused for this pepper, however, since some of its relatives are also called
bird’s eye peppers.

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