We meet the men behind two Piri Piri outlets preparing to open
Paulo Da Silva, manager director of Portugal Genuine Piri Piri Restaurant
What inspired you to start a Portuguese restaurant in Dubai? There are a thousand Portuguese in Dubai, and no [authentic] Portuguese restaurants. Also, chicken piri piri is an original Portuguese recipe, but nothing like the fast food version. Now we will bring the genuine dish to Dubai.
What do you think of Portuguese fast-food venue Nando’s? It’s not representative of Portuguese food. Portuguese chicken is marinated in a different way – the acids from the citrus juice are mixed with 20 spices and we grill it in a proper charcoal grill. It’s takes longer, but it’s worth it.
What is the philosophy of Portuguese cooking? Our food is served with love and traditional flavours. In the south we eat more fish, and in the north more meat, so the dishes tend to be heavier.
What ingredients are you importing from Portugal? Almost everything, even the salt. Portuguese dry salty cod is a really special recipe and we couldn’t replace the ingredients. We soak the cod in water for three days to remove the salt before cooking, which changes the texture and the taste. In Portugal we have 365 cod recipes, one for each day of the year.
What will the restaurant look like? A mix of modern and rustic – old stone pillars and Portuguese tiles, mixed with modern Italian design pieces, and a vertical garden where plants will cascade from the wall.
What sets Portugal restaurant apart? I wanted to create a place that’s modern, but still like being at home in Portugal, in a place that looks like it has stood the test of time. We will also introduce traditional fado music to Dubai, with amazing vocalists singing emotive songs, accompanied by the medieval guitar. Portugal Genuine Piri Piri, Sea View Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 359 7427).
Luis Salgueiro, chef de cuisine at Piri Piri restaurant
From: Alentejo, in southern Portugal.
What inspired you to start a Portuguese restaurant in Dubai? We were inspired to recreate our sister property in the Algarve, and to bring this concept to Dubai. Portuguese cuisine reflects the freshness of its ingredients, and offers us the chance to explore the wealth and spirit of a nation through its love of food.
What do you think of Nando’s? No comment!
What do you miss most about eating in Portugal? The incredible variety of fish – I could eat fish in a different way every day for a year.
What is the philosophy of Portuguese cooking? Simple, unintimidating, approachable, and as varied as its landscapes and heritage. The influence of Portugal’s former colonies is notable, especially in the variety of spices used. We also use ingredients from the New World, such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.
What is Portugal’s national dish? The cozido a Portuguesa (Portuguese stew) is composed of vegetables, cooked meats and sausages.
How does the cooking differ in Portugal’s different regions? The cuisine varies based on weather and proximity to the sea. Coastal regions bring in seafood, while inland regions bring vegetables. During the summer we love barbecued meats, but fish is definitely a favourite.
What will the restaurant look like? It will have friendly, casual decor, with natural wood and homely colours.
What sets Piri Piri restaurant apart? Modern yet authentic Portuguese food. We are also really excited about the open kitchen, where guests can interact with me while I’m cooking. It will give them the opportunity to get closer to the region’s food, and we want them to feel at home. Piri Piri, Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai (04 303 3489).