A bold preserve that sits well with many dishes, from stir-fries and curries to mild, soft goat’s cheese. The secret is not to overcook it. It won’t set like a jam as there is no pectin, so use your judgment and keep tasting as it cooks and reduces.
Makes 5 x 200ml jars
125g garlic cloves, crushed
125g ginger, peeled and grated
60g medium-hot red chillies, stems removed
30ml red wine vinegar
½ tbsp salt
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Blitz the chillies with the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a saucepan with the other ingredients and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2 Cook for about an hour, stirring more frequently at the later stages, until the chilli jam has thickened and is a good colour.
3 Decant into five sterilised jam jars. Store in a cool dry spot and consume within six months.
Sichuan aubergines with ginger, garlic and chilli
Aubergine is a veg that can stand up to some spice; it’s particularly at ease with the Sichuan trio of ginger, garlic and a blast of chilli. Serve alongside a bowl of steaming brown basmati rice.
4 large aubergines (about 1.2kg)
A pinch of salt
100ml vegetable oil
For the sauce
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Sichuan chilli bean paste
1 chile de árbol or 2 Sichuan chillies, crumbled
2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1 Cut the aubergines into rounds about 1-2cm thick, then cut the rounds in half. Sprinkle them with a little salt and leave to drain in a colander over the sink or on the draining board for at least half an hour, to draw out any excess water.
2 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. When the aubergines are drained, toss them in the vegetable oil and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the aubergines are completely soft and a tempting golden on the outside.
3 Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Mix the cornflour with 2 tbsp water. Heat the oil in a large wok and when hot, add the chilli bean paste. As soon as it starts sizzling, add the chilli, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a minute or two, taking care not to burn the chilli and garlic or the sauce will taste bitter.
4 Pour in the stock and cornflour paste and cook for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken, then add the sherry, vinegar and sugar and simmer together for a few minutes to allow the flavours to meld.
5 Pour the sauce over the aubergines and scatter with the spring onions and coriander.
Fall-apart chipotle pork and pinto bean chilli
Pork and chilli is a classic pairing, as evidenced by this slow-cooked stew. Here, the richness of the meat is satisfyingly countered by the heat of chipotle – smoked, dried jalapeños.
1.2kg pork shoulder steaks, cut into 3cm pieces
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chipotle puree
800ml tomato passata
60ml cider vinegar
45g soft brown sugar
2 x 400g tins pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, chopped
2 avocados, sliced
A large handful of fresh coriander
A handful of Red Leicester cheese, grated
1 Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan with a lid, over a medium-high heat. Brown the pork, in batches, for 1–2 minutes each side or until browned all over. Remove and set aside. It will seem like a lot of meat but it shrinks considerably when it cooks.
2 Reduce the heat to low-medium, add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil, onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5–6 minutes or until softened.
3 Add the spices and chipotle puree and cook for a few minutes. Add the passata, vinegar, sugar and pork. Add a good sprinkling of salt, cover with a lid and cook for 1 hour or until the pork is tender. Keep the heat low so the bottom doesn’t burn and remember to give it a stir every 15 minutes or so.
4 When the pork is fall-apart tender, add the drained beans and warm through. Serve in small bowls topped with the onion, avocado, coriander and cheese. If you want it to stretch to 8-10 people, serve it with basmati rice.
Chilli cheese toasties
You can’t go wrong with a toasted cheese sandwich, but you can make it even better with a few fiery specks of green chilli. The art to the perfect toastie is to melt the cheese without burning the bread. Paneer won’t melt like cheddar, but it makes an interesting alternative here.
8 slices medium-sliced white or brown bread
175g crumbled paneer or grated cheddar
2 or 3 green chillies (or to taste), finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, diced (optional)
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
1 level tsp chaat masala (or to taste)
Salt and black pepper
Tomato ketchup (optional)
For the coriander chutney
2 large handfuls of coriander leaves
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cumin, dry-roasted
3 tbsp lemon juice
A pinch of salt
1 To make the chutney, blend the ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped. Add a splash of water and blend again until smooth.
2 Butter the bread slices on both sides. Spread 4 of the slices with coriander chutney to taste.
3 Combine the cheese, chillies, onion, tomato and coriander, and divide evenly between the bread slices that have been covered with chutney.
4 Season to taste with chaat masala, salt and pepper, top with the remaining pieces of buttered bread and grill under a medium-temperature grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve piping hot, with a squirt of ketchup on the side.
Caribbean pepper sauce
A homemade jar of hot pepper sauce deserves a permanent home in your fridge. This lip-smacking recipe is cut through with sour lime, earthy coriander, garlic and ginger. If you so dare, double the number of scotch bonnets for something that will blow your socks off. Drizzle over grilled meats, roasted veg or morning eggs and use sparingly to enhance the flavour of stews and ragus.
Makes about 500ml
12 medium-size scotch bonnets, stems removed, roughly chopped
A large handful of coriander leaves
1½ garlic bulbs, cloves peeled
150ml white wine vinegar
1½ heaped tbsp castor sugar
1 tbsp American mustard
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ unripe papaya, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 Put the lime in a small pan and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to the boil and cook the lime until soft and tender – about 10–15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2 Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients, except the salt and pepper, into a blender and blend until smooth.
3 Finely chop the lime (keeping the peel on) and stir into the other ingredients.
4 Decant the pepper sauce into a sterilised bottle, pop the lid on and leave to develop flavour for 2 days. Then season to taste with sea salt – it will take a lot of salt – and freshly ground pepper and give the bottle a good shake to distribute the seasoning.
5 Store in the fridge for up to 6 months (don’t worry about any discolouration over time).