Despite the overwhelming presence on social media and the prevalence of articles extolling the virtues of this chain chicken restaurant, I am not a patron. Sorry Nando’s, this isn’t anything personal. There just isn’t one of your restaurants anywhere near me and I refuse to travel miles just for food.
I have been once or twice; in fact, the last time I went was with my older brother and two people have never failed so hard at ordering food since I accidentally ordered a group bread and olive platter on a first date, only to find out that she was gluten intolerant. I ate the whole thing myself because I will not waste good food. God, I was so bloated I think I just spent the rest of the day laying down and taking really shallow breaths.
In our Nando’s encounter, my brother and I (both of us are over 6ft tall and quite broad) ordered one whole chicken between us. Obviously, it came with a few sides but that’s not enough for me alone. If I ordered a whole chicken myself with Noodle, I would still eye up her plate at the end like a vulture. We walked away from the entire event in a malaise. Genuinely disappointed in our own ineptitude.
Other than shame, my prevailing memory from that meal was how good the sides were. The creamy mashed potato was decadent and balanced perfectly against the zingy and refreshing Macho peas. I needed more but, alas, I had to head home. Which is 36 miles away from my nearest Nando’s.
I know this distance because I once walked from my front door to Lincoln to raise money for my trip to Africa. It was a distance of 33 miles, it took over 8 hours and I blacked out twice from the pain. In the end, I actually phoned my brother to tell him I couldn’t go on, only to find out I had actually been in Lincoln for 2 hours. So there was no way I was going to walk all the way for peas and potato.
My lack of determination to get to a restaurant was in direct contradiction to my desire to eat those sides again. I tried to remember the flavours involved but the memory was fleeting. So I didn’t lose that feeling, I decided to make up a few batches of different peas and see which one closely resembled the ones I had that day.
Here is that wonderful recipe…
Decent Handful of Frozen Peas (that’s right, nothing fancy here)
1 Red Bird’s Eye Chilli (you can add more if you’re a nutcase)
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Medium Sized Shallot
Handful of Mint (super tip, buy a massive bunch at the grocers or whatever and freeze it. It still tastes amazing but it lasts until the heat death of the universe)
Pinch of Sea Salt
Half Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
This is really easy to make, especially if you have a small hand blender like I do.
- Peel the shallot and garlic
- Deseed the chilli (or don’t, I didn’t. I just chopped the stem off)
- Throw it in a hand blender with the paprika. Don’t make a paste, just get it chopped really finely. You can do this by hand but I’m not a caveman and will, therefore, use any and all tools at my disposal
- Heat up the oil and throw the blend in
- Put the peas in the hand blender and give them a half second pulse. This should just crack them a bit, don’t puree the bloody things
- Throw the peas in with the mixture and keep stirring it
- After about 5 minutes, finely chop the mint and throw it in with the salt
- Stir it on the heat for about 2 minutes
That’s the job done. The peas should still have a little bit of crunch but be covered in that lovely mixture
That’s it, about 10 minutes work and you can sit down with a spoon and eat peas like they’re going out of fashion.
If you’re having it as a side dish, give me a shout what you’re eating them with on Facebook or here in the comments section.