Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Chile Jam - The World's Greatest Condiment

Do you ever play the "What If" game with your friends? What if you had to lose one of your senses? Which would you give up? What if you could have passionate sex with any celebrity? Who would it be? If you could have dinner with any three famous people, dead or alive, who would they be and why? My favorite bar game called "No Option" is a riff on this game: You pick any three people in the bar, and your friends have to say who they would have sex with and why. It's called "No Option" because they can't say, "Death". You play, you answer the question and tell us WHY. Death is no option.

In my circle of food-obsessed gluttons, this game tends to quickly turn to all things culinary. If you could have only have three cookbooks, what would they be? (For me, It's Giorgio Locatelli's Made In Italy, Jerry Traunfeld's Herbfarm Cookbook, and Teage Ezard's Lotus – Asian Flavours). If you could only have one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?  For me, it used to be ketchup. As my palate and culinary skills grew, aioli nosed its way into the lead. Then I discovered Chile Jam. Chile Jam is a traditional thai recipe, and there are as many variations as there are for rustic curries. I've tried every chile jam recipe I can get my hands on. For my tastes none of them touch this one by Christine Manfield, an Aussie chef whose cookbooks are inspirational, inspiring and invariably put out amazing recipes that always work. (You may recognize her name, as she just won the IACP award for her newest book, Tasting India .)

Best.  Condiment.  Ever.

I’ve done in huge batches a few times. Typically, I double the recipe because it takes time, and for the investment I'd rather make a ton of it so it will last.  The first time I used serranos instead of the red birds eye chillies, because they didn’t have them at the asian market that particular day.  I also added a bit more palm sugar, which rounds out the heat more IMHO.  The second batch was with the hot thai birds eye chillies, and it is REALLY hot.  Still good, but much more punch than the first batch.  Just be forewarned.

This has depth of flavor you won't get from most condiments, because it cooks for 12 hours (sometimes I cook it up to 18 hours). The chile heat blast blends in with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and palm sugar. The tamarind adds a great tang to the mix and rounds the flavors out completely. It's a time investment, but the active time isn't too much. You just have to remember to stir it every hour or so.

I put this into any recipe calling for chile sauce, Sriracha, or just needing a kick. It's the perfect accessory for a fried egg sandwich, tossed with sautéed vegetables and one of my personal favorites — an addition to fried rice.

I've typed the recipe as it's listed in the book, which is from Australia. This is how they spell chiles down under. Don't beat me up for spelling!

If you make this, please tell me what you think. I'm certain you won't be disappointed. 

By the way, I'm curious what your favorite "What If" categories are. Share, people!

Chilli Jam:


1.5 kg large red chillies, chopped

300 g red birds eye chillies, chopped

8 large brown onions, chopped

15 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 litre vegetable oil

300 ml Tamarind liquid

125 g palm sugar, divided

Blend chillies, onion, garlic and oil to a smooth paste in a food processor.  Cook paste in a wide, heave based pan over low heat until dark red – this will take up to 12 hours of continuous slow cooking and occasional stirring.  Stir in tamarind liquid and palm sugar and cook very slowly for 2 hours.  Spoon into jars, then cover with a film of oil and seal.  Refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Chile Jam ingredients at the beginning of the simmer.

Chile Jam after 12 hours, ready to put into jars.

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Reader Comments (12)

This sounds delicious! And you made a batch in time to give me a jar for my birthday next month, right? RIGHT?!

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Looks like a lot of oil at first glance, but then I see all the onions. I'm assuming they're sopping up a lot of the oil. By large, do you mean softball-size, like I see at places like Uwajimaya? Or smaller. I'd think those large ones would make this very onion-y.

Also, are you squeezing tamarind to make paste/juice, or buying liquid?

Looking forward to trying this!

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Is this the stuff you gave me last time I saw you? That stuff rocks!

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Sonja, Absolutely!

Jay, I dont usually buy the softball-sized onions. I'd say large, non-mutant onions :) Also, the onions and garlic caramelize in all of that oil and by the time it has cooked 12 hours, it doesn't taste oniony at all. For the tamarind, I typically buy the jar of tamarind, which includes liquid...but I've also done it with tamarind pulp, soaked it and used that liquid.

Kathy, yes! I'm glad you liked it.

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterMarc

Wait! You're sending OTHER people chile jam. What am I, chopped livah? (And here I've been jamming you for all these years . . . ungrateful pup that you are.) It's alright, I'll just sit in the dark.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve2 in LA

ok, so who gets up in the middle of the night to stir this stuff?

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertok

Steve, it will be in the mail this week. Those jams were provided in person. Yours will be expressed :)

TOK, noone....at night it gets to simmer on very low heat, and a little burning on the bottom of the pot be damned.

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterMarc

And here I had SUCH faith in you as a crock wh*re...


April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuth in SF

what's wrong with the way we spell chilli?
I bought the book after your raves when you got it in Sydney. I've made this recipe twice now. Andrew'sfavourite way of having it is with a side of dim sum. I say side as he's got more chilli jam on his chopsticks than dumplings....

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKT in Sydney

Hi Kathy! I miss you.

I think I eat chile jam the way Andrew does :) Have you seen her newest books, Fire and Made in India? Also spectacular!

April 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterMarc

Remember when I sent you those cookbooks and you said 'can I send you something'....a jar of this or chile oil would not be frowned upon or at least the recipe for the oil...since that is what I'm doing here in the first place. :-)

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Jenny, you got it...can you send me your address again via FB?


September 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterMarc

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