How to make chilli jam…

My chilli jam doesn't look this good, but you get the idea...
My chilli jam doesn’t look this good, but you get the idea…

I don’t do a lot of the bake and take thing – you know, giving of food for Christmas. I do however, usually make a batch of this chilli jam. One jar of it goes to my BMF – he has it on leftover cold meats, ham, cheese sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, chicken and cheese sandwiches – and we keep the rest.

What do we have it with? Much the same as him, actually, but it’s also great with Thai fishcakes, corn and coriander fritters, and as an alternative to tomato sauce on a burger.

You can also drop some into a jar with lime juice and olive oil for a spicy dressing, add it to decent mayo for a variation on marie sauce to have with prawns, or mix with cream cheese as a dip. I also love it on top of cream cheese on toast or ryvitas.

The recipe I use is based on one from Chin Chin’s Benjamin Cooper. When it comes to the quantities of things like sugar, tamarind, fish sauce, let your taste guide you – how much you need will be dependent on how spicy your chillis are. And no, it isn’t a typo, this recipe does call for heads of garlic rather than cloves. Having said that, I tend to use 3 heads of garlic – especially at this time of the year when Australian garlic is in season and tasting great.

I also tend to use a lot less palm sugar – say, about 175g vs 250g – and an extra tablespoon of tamarind water…but that’s just our taste. Speaking of which, you can make tamarind water by mixing a couple of teaspoons of the paste with 100ml water; or (as I do) by soaking a hunk of block tamarind in a cup of boiling water for 10minutes or so.

Ok, to the recipe…

What you need…

  • 10 red birds-eye chillies
  • 8 red long chillies
  • 2 red capsicums (I de-seed the capsicums, but not the chillis)
  • 6 red onions
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (pale part only)
  • 1 knob ginger
  • 5 heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 250 g palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp tamarind water
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce

What you do with it…

Blend chillies, capsicum, onion, lemongrass, ginger and garlic to a fine paste.

Heat oil in a wok or heavy-based pan, add paste and fry until fragrant.

Add palm sugar and caramelise. Add tamarind water and fish sauce gradually, tasting as you go (you may not need the whole measure to get it to your own tastes). I tend to simmer it all for at least a half hour just to allow the flavours to blend together and soften.

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