Made To Make Your Eyes Water

Image of a basket of mixed chillies

Everybody’s writing Christmas recipes, which is lovely, but I really don’t think the world needs another step-by-step account of how to roast a turkey.

If, however, you want to spice up the leftovers come Boxing Day, here are some recipes which should light a fire under your family, in the nicest possible way.

We’ve been harvesting the last of our chillies and ended up with a big basketful: red, yellow and green; mild, medium and blow-your-head-off-hot.

As we have already got strings of chillies drying in the kitchen, jars of them lurking in the freezer ready to attack the unwary and several different chilli sauces and relishes in the pickle cupboard, we were scratching our heads as to what to do with them.

This is what we came up with.

Pickled Chillies

Image of a jar of pickled chillies

Based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver.


200g chillies

8 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp coriander seeds

2 1/2 tspn salt

3 heaped tbsp caster sugar

568 ml white wine vinegar


Remove the stalks from the chillies. Slit any long thin chillies carefully from end to end and remove the seeds. Cut fat round chillies into thickish slices, leaving the seeds in.

Image of sliced chillies

Pour boiling water over them and leave for five minutes. Drain. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar in a pan on the stove. It should be hot but not boiling.

Sterilise a jar big enough to take the chillies. Put the peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seeds and chillies in the jar and pour over the hot vinegar mix. Seal the jar and keep for two weeks before eating.


  • Servings: makes 2-3 small jars
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This famous, fiercely hot Moroccan paste is a staple in our kitchen. It’s fantastic with grilled meats and cold chicken. Stir a dollop into a bowl of mayo and you’ve got another, equally delicious, sauce. This recipe is from The Moro Cookbook, with the welcome addition of some herbs, an idea from Claudia Roden.

Image of jars of harissa


250 g fresh red chillies

3 heaped tsp coarsely ground caraway seeds

3 heaped tsp coarsely ground cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic

100g piquillo peppers (or one large red pepper, roasted, peeled and deseeded)

3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 tbsp dried mint

1 dessertspoon tomato puree

1 dessertspoon red wine vinegar

2 level tsp sweet smoked paprika

6 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper


Image of deseeded chillies

Slice the chillies in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon.

Roughly chop the chillies and put them in a food processor with a pinch of salt, half each of the spices and the garlic cloves until smooth.

Then add the peppers and blend. It’s important that the sauce is as smooth as possible. Add the herbs and pulse until the mixture is flecked with green.

Image of herbs added to paste in processor

Remove to a bowl and stir in the rest of the spices, tomato puree, vinegar, paprika and olive oil. Taste and add ground black pepper and more salt if necessary.

It keeps well stored in jars in the fridge as long as you cover it with a layer of olive oil to keep the air out. You can eat it right away but it improves with keeping.

Chillies in Soy (Prik Si-iew Wan)

  • Servings: makes 1 jar
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A Thai table condiment.

Image of soy sauce being poured into jar of sliced chillies


250g small green or red chillies

375 ml dark soy sauce


Destalk the chillies, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for 5 minutes then drain.

Slice the chillies into rings and place in a jar. Pour over the soy sauce, seal and store in the fridge.

Malay Chilli and Shallot Oil

  • Servings: makes 1 small bottle
  • Print

This comes from Oded Schwartz’s book, Preserving, although I’ve reduced his quantities.

A condiment he says is on every Malay table, it is good used (in moderation) in soups, stir-fries and rice dishes or indeed anywhere you need a flavour boost.

It’s ready to use straight away and should keep for six months. I love this stuff.

Image of shallots and dried chillies


35g dried chillies, stalks removed

100g shallots, peeled

3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled

375 ml groundnut or sunflower oil

A good shake of toasted sesame oil – optional but it improves the flavour


Image of oil being bottled

Put the dried chillies, whole shallots and garlic in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

Transfer to a pan and add the oil. Heat gently and cook for about 20 minutes, until the shallots are nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat and leave until the oil is cool.

Filter the oil using a sterilised jelly bag or muslin square or a coffee filter. Pour into a sterilised bottle, and seal.

13 thoughts on “Made To Make Your Eyes Water

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