Some Like it Hot!


With our Spicy new class, “Some Like It Hot” debuting in the Kitchen Studio next Monday it seems a good time to blog about one of my favourite recipes. You know the kind, the ones that you come across once in a while that become a life time favourite. Sometimes you discover them on holiday or in my case, ferret them out while travelling for business. On other occasions they may come via a favourite restaurant or a memorable meal, especially if the chef is feeling generous. Often they are passed down from the kitchens of family or friends. On the other hand of course, there are the recipe books that become much cherished, often for a specific recipe and this post is about one such recipe.

chilli Jam1

Anyone that knows me, also knows I have a weakness or passion for spicy cuisines and chilli, however I am rather particular. I am neither fond of the sweet gluggy, commercial chilli sauces comprised of nothing more than red chili flakes suspended in thickened sugar syrup with added food acid, nor am I a devotee of the “ blow you head off” chilli fan club, that reveres the scorching, palate numbing intensity of the Kala Ghoda or Ghost chilli. For me, as with all food I believe in balance and for me that’s why this recipe has stood the test of time.chilli Jam2

In fact for the past fourteen or so years my chili condiment of choice has been this recipe for Chilli Jam adapted from Christine Manfield’s timeless book “Spice”. Which, for the person just discovering the delights of spicy cuisines, is seriously one of the best Australian books on the subject. While currently out of print, it is worth tracking down a second hand copy (ISBN 0670870854) even if it’s just for the sections on condiments and spice blends alone.

chilli Jam3

But I digress, what makes this recipe special is that not only is it an outstanding condiment, to eaten on the side with just about anything (simple grills especially or even a bowl of plain rice) but it can also become an integral ingredient to stir fries or salads, instantly adding layers of flavor and complexity, unlike the goop  on supermarket shelves. It does have one drawback however in that it is not instant, it takes time and patience to cook the rawness out of the chillies and build richness, but then as every good cook knows, time and patience are a couple of the secrets to great food!

As for our class “Some Like It Hot” click here to see details and book

Chilli Jam (after Christine Manfield)

350g                       large red chillies – chopped
75g                         birds eye chillies – chopped
2                             onions – chopped
4 cloves                  garlic – minced
250ml                     sunflower oil
1 tablespoon          tamarind paste
30g                         palm sugar


  • Blend onions, garlic, chillies and oil to a smooth paste
  • Cook in a heavy pan over a very low heat stirring occasionally until a very deep, rich red colour and the oil starts to separate, have patience this will take at least a couple of hours!
  • Stir in the tamarind paste plus a couple of tablespoons of water and the palm sugar, continue to cook very slowly  to develop the required depth of flavor and to integrate the sweet and sour characters from the sugar and tamarind
  • To store, spoon into a jar while still hot, and if needed float a little oil over the top and seal. Refrigerate for up to 3 months……that is if you haven’t eaten it by then!