This Chilli Jam is more complex and refined that many others. Slow, slow cooking gives it an enduring and lingering natural sweetness which is enhanced with the addition of jaggery.
Although it is called a jam, it is not a spread unless you are a chilli fiend. It is closer to a Sambal or Chilli Paste. It is as hot as you can imagine chillies to be, and spread it on your toast at your peril. However, the long slow cooking intensifies the sugars in the ingredients and the heat is mellowed one compared to the heat of the raw or fresh pastes.
The original recipe came from my old housemate Chris Manfield’s book Stir. I often make this in quantities to give away to friends. My Thai friends all love it. I have scaled the recipe to suit the amount of chillies produced at one time by my chilli bushes. It is a little more than half the original. Double the recipe if you want to make more. It is likely that the cooking time will increase if you do.
900g large red Chinese Chillies
180g red birdseye chillies
5 large brown onions, quartered
9 large garlic cloves
600ml peanut oil
180ml tamarind liquid
75g jaggery/palm sugar
extra vegetable oil for sealing
Remove the stalks from the chillies, and blend the chillies, onion, garlic and oil to a smooth paste in a food processor.
Cook the paste in a wide, heavy-based pan over low heat until dark red. This will take up to 12 hours of continuous slow cooking and occasional stirring.
Stir in the tamarind liquid and palm sugar and cook very slowly for 2 hours more.
Spoon into sterilised jars, cover with a film of oil and seal when cool. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Use a variety of chillies to add to the flavours. I used 4 different types this year, including two different birds eye style chillies, the Chinese longer chillies and chillies from another bush that I had growing.
Add 0.25 tspn fenugreek seeds, toasted.