Thai tomato and chilli relish

Thai tomato and chilli relish


The last time I made preserves I made chilli jam and I had major issues.  My workmate Junior kindly gave me bags of streetlight coloured chillies which were growing wildly at his mother’s house and I couldn’t wait to get home and transform them into jam.  Here is my issue: I should have worn gloves. 
After slicing and dicing the chillies my hands began to burn and went on to burn for the following 2 days.  I tried iced water baths and towel wraps from the freezer, I slept with my burning hands above my head, resting on the windowsill with the window open.  The jam was super hot and deliciously sweet and eating it was not for the faint hearted.

It’s not as if this was my first run in with chillies either.  For my 13th birthday my parents gave me a gas barbeque (I must add that this is what I had asked for) and I began experimenting with spicy rubs and marinades.  After chopping chillies I rubbed my eyes – I can still remember the intense the burning sensation that followed.  I locked myself in the bathroom for hours thinking about how I was going to tell my family how I had gone blind.  

This recipe is so simple; there are only two chillies although you are free to add more – just don’t rub your eyes.
My method of sterilising jars is not perfect but it is fine if you are keeping the relish for just a couple of months; I recommend keeping it in the refrigerator.

As well as being a relish to have with cheese and crackers or on the side of an omelette or frittata, it can also be a beautiful glaze for your Christmas ham or a side accompaniment for your roast turkey or chicken.  I will be serving it as a sauce with barbequed meat at the beach on Christmas Day.


fills at least 10 x 375g jars
-- 4 x 400g tins tomatoes (whatever is on special) 2 hot red chillies 10 cloves garlic ¼ cup ginger, peeled and chopped 10 tbsp fish sauce 480ml red wine vinegar 1.2kg brown sugar 4tbsp cardamom pods, ground 300g dried fruit (I used mango but you could use raisins, papaya, pineapple) 1.5kg fresh tomatoes, chopped 1 x 10g sachet gelatine


-- 1. In a blender or food processor add the canned tomatoes, chilli, garlic, ginger and fish sauce. Process until smooth. I did this in two batches. 2. Place the tomato sauce into a large saucepan and add to it the vinegar, sugar, cardamom, dried fruit and fresh tomatoes. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 1 hour or until the mixture thickens. 3. At 150ºC Bake in your oven, place your clean jars on a tray and heat for 15-20 mins.� 4. In a saucepan of water, bring the jar lids to the boil and then simmer for a further 20 mins. 5. Transfer the hot relish into the sterilised jars. I used plastic preserving seals (fitted with rubber bands) which you can buy from any supermarket. Then screw on the lids. 6. Once cool, refrigerate the jars; they will keep for around 2 months in the fridge. Give as gifts to loved ones.

10 thoughts on “Thai tomato and chilli relish”

  • I love thai chilis! What a unique use for them – and I’ve definitely suffered the connsequences of not wearing gloves when cutting chilis. One of these days we’ll learn!

  • I will try this today.
    A good and instant cure (as I found out last week having chopped chillies and garlic without gloves…) is to put your fingers in sour cream-instant relief!

  • Thanks for your comments guys. I will remember the sour cream if I have an experience with chillis in the future!

    I just opened a new jar and I think it has improved since bottling it a month ago!

  • My partner grows crazy chillies. And he adores garlic. He would love this!

    If using gelatine do not add pineapple. It contains an enzyme that stops the gelatine from setting.

    Could this recipe be made using pectin instead? Negating the need for refrigeration… There seems to be enough sugar and and also vinegar.

  • Sounds so Great! But when do you add10g of gelatine ? Does this relish keep in the pantry rather than the fridge for a long time like other preserves? Thank you!

  • wow this sounds wonderful, means I can use some of the fresh chillies I have growing, many thanks

  • Thanks for being considerate and mentioning the gloves thing! The sweet chilli sauce recipe I used Last week didn’t and I did the same thing!! Chopped almost a kilo of chillis with my bare hands and they burnt all the way through to my bones for 2 days solid! Looking forward to trying your recipe! Thanks!

  • Hi guys,Thanks 🙂 I think there are so many variations of this bescaue everyone likes a bit more of this and a bit less of that, so they tweak it to their own taste.Mandy – Yes the bought stuff tastes “metallic” to me now.Tricia – I have tried this in the sun cooker and you might want to saute it with some onions or a little oil first before adding it to the rest of the mix. Toasting the spices brings out their full flavour – it will still taste OK if you don’t but it won’t have the depth of flavour as doing it on the stove.Bruise Mouse – Have fun!Cheers, Julie

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