Cookbook​ Review: Lisbon

Full of history, great food and bursting with character, Portugal’s capital is one of Europe’s most charming cities. In Lisbon, Rebecca Seal shares her favourite recipes, inspired by her travels.

Set on seven hills, Lisbon features world-class beaches, city views and wild forests. And the food is as diverse as the surroundings from the bars in Bairro Alto to the cafes in Chiado, there’s something for everyone.

The book features over 80 accessible recipes based on traditional Portuguese cuisine, including Caldo Verde (Kale soup), Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato (clams in white wine and garlic), and pesticos (Portuguese tapas). Try the tasty Roasted octopus with smoked paprika, parsley and lemon, and the classic Chicken Piri-Piri, all washed down with some homemade Sangria. Rebecca’s sweets are not to be missed, and include a delicate Almond cake, a summery Coconut Brioche, and a decadent Chocolate cake with dulce de leche and sweetened cream.

All set to the backdrop of eighteenth-century buildings, ornate churches, nostalgic trams and pastel-coloured houses, Lisbon is an impressive cookbook.

Lisbon: Recipes from the Heart of Portugalis available at and

Piri-Piri Chicken

Serves 4

It is all too easy to find Piri-Piri chicken in Lisbon, as most neighbourhoods have at least one, and often several, simple restaurants serving chargrilled spicy chicken, fries, and salad, along with salt cod fritters, barbecued sardines, grilled chouriço (chorizo) sausages and seafood rice. Locals get take-out or eat at tables set with paper tablecloths, sipping ice-cold beers or carafes of chilled vinho verde, a pale green Portuguese wine.

Traditionally, Piri-Piri Chicken is grilled or barbecued on its own, but for an incredibly easy meal, add some roughly chopped onion, a whole head of garlic and chunks of sweet or white potato to the pan, perhaps with a few thick strips of bell pepper. Toss with an extra tablespoon of olive oil and roast the whole lot together.

This marinade will work for a whole roast chicken (although you will need more sauce), or for chicken wings as well as thighs or drumsticks. Wings will need around half the cooking time below, while thighs and drumsticks will need roughly 5 minutes less.


4 whole free-range (organic if possible) chicken legs (thigh and drumstick together)

4 tablespoons Piri-Piri Sauce (see below)

1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

2 tablespoons olive oil

a little salt


Place all the ingredients in a large oven tray and toss until the chicken is well coated. You can cook the chicken straight away but ideally leave it to marinate for as long as you can—even overnight (in the fridge).

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Place the tray in the oven and cook for 45–55 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken legs, until the skin is crisp and sticky, the meat is cooked and pulls away from the bone easily, and the juices run clear.


Piri-Piri Sauce

Makes 1 × 400 g (14 oz) jar

This hot pepper sauce is hugely popular in Portugal and its former colonies Cape Verde, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and Goa, as well as in Britain, chicken sausages, fish or seafood before grilling or roasting, or stirred into marinades—you can even use it in place of hot sauce in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.

Chilli peppers were native to South America originally, but Piri-Piri peppers have grown in Africa for centuries, probably traveling across the Atlantic with Portuguese traders and then cross-pollinating to create the tiny spicy chillies we have today.

There’s a bit of confusion about whether malagueta, Piri-Piri chillies, and African bird’s eye chillies are all exactly the same thing, as often they are labelled interchangeably. Whatever the label says, these are small and pretty fierce, and only used once they turn from green to red. They are extremely hot, which is why I wear gloves to prepare them and am scrupulous about cleaning up afterward. (You really, really don’t want to touch delicate skin or your eyes after handling one of these.) I always to leave them in. The whiskey might seem like a strange addition, but it is added for preservation purposes more than for flavour.


4 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 large medium-hot red chilli peppers,

seeds and ribs removed

2 Piri-Piri, Malagueta or African bird’s eye chillies, seeds and ribs removed

2 sweet red (bell) peppers, halved, ribs and seeds removed

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed

lemon juice

1 teaspoon hot Piri-Piri powder


2 tablespoons whiskey


Thoroughly clean a heatproof jar (including the lid) in hot soapy water, then place the jar in a low oven for 15 minutes.

Place all the ingredients into a blender and purée until roughly combined.

Taste and decide whether you would like more heat; add another chilli or even 2 if you really like heat. (The fieriness of the paste will be weakened by cooking, so go for slightly more heat than you think you like.) Purée until really smooth, then transfer to the clean, sterilised jar, seal and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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