The Portuguese settlers to Mozambique were introduced to pili pili chili by the African Mozambicans who had incorporated it in their cuisine. The term 'pili pili' is Swahili for 'pepper pepper'. The settlers began to use piri piri in their own daily cooking.
The restaurant has its origins in a mining town in South Africa, where many Mozambicans of Portuguese origins relocated to Johannesburg in search of gold and carried piri piri recipes to South Africa.
Industries catering to the mining communities began to grow in Rosettenville, including "Chickenland". The restaurant began in 1987 when Portuguese-Mozambican Fernando Duarte along with Robert Brozin bought a restaurant called Chickenland in Rosettenville, southern Johannesburg in South Africa. They renamed the restaurant Nando's, after Duarte. The restaurant incorporated influences from former Portuguese colonists from Mozambique, many of whom had settled on the south-eastern side of Johannesburg, after their homeland's independence in 1975. The logo is derived from the Rooster of Barcelos.
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Nando's have introduced a very popular potato crisps range for its customers that includes the favours, Hot Peri Peri, Peri Peri Chick and Smokey BBQ Peri Peri.