Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Chilli Relish

This recipe is based upon on an idea from my friend David Offutt, The Gastronomic Gardener, a regular source of gardening and culinary inspiration...

Fearing that they would be lost to the (presumably-imminent) Autumn frosts, I picked all the chillis on my six plants that looked anything like ripe.

This was the starting-point, with the chillis posed alongside another batch of beans picked at the same time. Those "Cobra" French beans are huge! We won't be able to use that many chillis fresh before they go off, so I decided to make them into a sort of relish or sambal...

I'm concentrating on the chillis now. Most of them were of the unknown variety I nicknamed "Medium Long"

This is my recipe:

Chilli Relish
  • Approx 250 g fresh chillis, stalks removed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Half teaspoon ground Cumin
  • Quarter teaspoon ground Cardamon
  • Salt
  • 50 ml White wine vinegar
  • 100 ml hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • A little vegetable oil for frying the onions
  • A squeeze of Tomato puree (to enhance the colour)
[Because I was aware that my chillis were not very hot, I added a half teaspoon of chilli powder and a splash of Tabasco sauce! Omit this if your chillis are hot enough already...]

  • Chop the chillis quite coarsely, and place them in a bowl with the Garlic, ground Cumin and ground Cardamom.
  • Add plenty of salt, and mix well.
  • Leave to marinate for about an hour.

  • Fry the onions gently in the vegetable oil until soft but not brown. Allow to cool a little.
  • Using a food-processor, process the onions and the chilli mixture to a coarse paste.
  • Transfer to a saucepan; add the sugar, vinegar, water and tomato puree.

  • Cook over a low heat for approx an hour until the mixture becomes thick and sticky.
  • If you feel that the mixture has gone too thick before it is properly cooked, add a little more hot water.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then decant into sterilised jar(s).

The end result was very reminiscent of the condiment "Sambel Oelek" which some of you will know (Google it if you don't). VERY powerful but utterly yummy! I suggest you use it sparingly though. With the vinegar and sugar content of this relish, it should keep OK in the fridge for several months (if not used before...).

P.S. I've just discovered the monthly "Simple and in Season" link-up feature on Ren Behan's website Fabulicious Food. I think many readers of my blog would enjoy this too. It's a good place for veg gardeners to meet up with Foodies and vice versa. (Of course, like me, you may fit into both categories already!). I recommend that you investigate...


  1. Its interesting how upon cooking the colour of the fresh vegetables is transformed.

    I discovered Ren's blog a few months ago. I agree a good place to link up Simple and Seasonal recipes.

  2. That looks really delicious and it is pretty, too.

  3. I hope I get enough chillies to try making this. It looks good.

  4. Lookin good - what would you use it with Mark?
    p.s. do you have a good recipe for a pasta sauce - I have just taken all my toms out of the freezer to make more room, I am sure you have one on your blog somewhere.

  5. That would be my question too. When I was growing up we never ate anything "hot" (spice-wise) so I never know what to use these things for.

  6. Looks good Mark, a dab even on some plain rice will liven it up! Also great on eggs, a spoonful stirred into a curry or stir fry... The possibilities are many.

  7. That looks really nice Mark - how hot is it?

  8. Ali; VERY hot. Maybe I overdid the Tabasco?
    We're planning to use it in small quantities to add some zing to Indonesian / Caribbean dishes.

  9. Interesting. I wouldn't know what an Indonesian or Caribbean dish is either, lol. I have never eaten curry, don't know what it is and stir fry is not something I seem to do well. So if I was going to use my imagination and think about using this I would have to put a Southern USA side to it and use it where I might use hot sauce....in catfish stew, on hot wings?, maybe in the stupid pickled eggs that I can never get hot, in with the boiled peanuts?,injected into the turkey before frying? LOL, ok maybe not.

  10. That looks tempting Mark. I've brought three of my chilli plants indoors in the hope that I can keep them going, but I will need to use the ones outside in the planthouse soon. I am now torn between making up lots of curry pastes and freezing them, or trying your relish. Decisions, decisions...


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