Thai tomato and chilli relish

Photographer: Emma
fills at least 10 x 375g jars

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.


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.