Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

23 Oct


When we go to our favourite Chinese restaurant the first (of many) things we over eat on is vegetarian crackers with loads of chilli oil. Our tummies flare away after a few mouthfuls as do our tongues, but we keep going. We always joke that our Indian heritage is revealing itself here; not everyone hoovers up chilli in this way, surely?

My love for chilies isn’t just based on the heat. The flavour of chilies is something else. Sometimes sweet, sometimes smokey, sometimes tangy. I love the way they get into the nose and cheeks as soon as a they’re bitten.

I’m sure every Asian person has an aunt that carries chilli sauce in their handbag, I know I have a couple at least! In my last corporate role the IT department was filled with people from Calcutta and Bangalore. They and I would queue for the microwaves in the canteen and they would heat up their stacks of Chappati, curry and rice separately whilst I would be tapping my single tub of daal and rice with forced patience and a smile masking my hunger and nervousness about making that meeting.

Anyway, those of the IT people that didn’t bring a packed lunch feast would buy something like chips and guess what they would pull out?

It’s engrained. On pizza, on cheese on toast, on chips, on jacket potatoes…chilli. So I thought, why not? Why don’t I make a chilli oil with an Indian accent, like my ex colleagues from Bangalore and my auntie and my mummy.

Do you know how easy it is to make chilli oil? I wasn’t even sure it warranted a recipe or a post on my site until I spoke to a few of my friends and they said they loved the stuff and asked me about the best place to buy it. So here we are.

These pretty little jars make excellent Christmas gifts that are handmade and special. My husband is away this week on business and I’ve been handing these little jars out to my friends and family who have come to keep me company and they’ve gone down beautifully.

I have used sesame oil and olive oil in my recipe because sesame oil makes the whole mix gorgeously nutty. I’ve used lots of whole spices that are used in garam masala and they all add aroma and gentle heat with some sweetness. Cinnamon and star anise smell sweet and floral respectively. All you need to do is heat it up to aid the infusion, but don’t burn the chilies by boiling the oil. Just be gentle. Remember that the infusion gets stronger over weeks. I would shake the oil once a week and keep it in a cool and dry place. Let me know what you think of this one!


225ml sesame oil
225ml olive oil
20g dried flaked chilies
5-7 whole dried chilies
3 medium sized sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 star anise
5-6 cloves


1. Sterilise the jars and dry them thoroughly.
2. Pour the oil into a deep bottomed non-stick pan and add the chilies and whole spices.
3. Heat the oil until you see gentle bubbles and turn down the heat. Don’t boil the oil or burn the chilies.IMG_3925
4. Keep the oil on the flame for 4-5 minutes to add the infusion, but on a low flame.
5. Let the chili oil cool and then pour the oil into the jars, try to distribute the while spices evenly.

Store the jars in a cook dry place and shake them once a week.

18 Responses to “Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent”

  1. Deb October 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    It a bitter cold, foggy afternoon and nothing sounds better than a warming scoop of your robust Chilli oil! It would divine floating atop tonights Butternut Squash Soup!

    • Deena Kakaya October 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

      You are right Deb, it is robust! I took too much on my guest scoop at it hit me with a ‘Pow’. This oil is pretty flavoursome given the addition of whole spices that make up garam masala. My husband is away on business this week so I’ve had lots of friends and family visit us and I’ve been giving them this chilli oil as a thank you gift. It’s going down really well!

      Yes, people should defo head over to your site and check out the soup and more!! X

  2. Leah October 24, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have a committed chilli addict in my home and I’ve been contemplating making own chilli oil to satisfy his cravings. I love the sound of have some spices in the oil to maximise the flavours of the chillis.

    • Deena Kakaya October 24, 2013 at 6:45 am #

      Hi Leah, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I really hope your chilli addict enjoys this oil…the sesame oil is lovely with the chilies as ate the whole spices. I think it takes a couple of weeks for all the flavours to really kick in. I’m using my batches to give away as gifts 🙂 please do tell me how you enjoy it once you’ve tried it x

  3. Franglais kitchen, Nazima October 24, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    lovely idea Deena. One for Christmas presents with a difference!

    • Deena Kakaya October 24, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Hi Nazima, great to see your comment! Absolutely agree with you and I’ve updated the post with this suggestion. My husband is away on business this week and I’ve been handing these little beauties out to fiends and family who have been coming over to keep me company; they’ve gone down superbly! Xx

  4. HELEN October 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    oh wow, this sounds amazing – it’s definitely one I will be trying, thanks for telling me about it!

    • Deena Kakaya October 28, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      Hello Helen, lovely to see a comment from you 🙂 I’ve been using in it cooking as well as dressing…works so well. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me lovely words xxx

  5. Vanesther November 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Another fabulous entry for this month’s chilli-themed Spice Trail challenge! Perfect for a chilli addict like me – thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Deena Kakaya November 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      This one really is addictive! Luckily I made three jars for myself 😉 I’m do glad you like it Vanesther x

  6. Poppy December 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    That is so gloriously red and I bet it’s so fragrant! 😀

    • Deena Kakaya December 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      It is poppy, such fun to make and eat! Thanks so much for stopping by xx

      • Poppy December 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

        I’ll remember this next time I make chillii oil! x


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