Chilli Oil to Blow Your Face Off


You know why chillies are spicy? It's a deterrent to try and stop us from eating them. Birds can eat chillies like nobody's business and they don't feel a thing, because chillies WANT birds to eat them. Birds' digestive systems don't damage the chilli seeds on the way through, so birds eat the chillies, fly off somewhere, and their droppings carry the seeds far and wide, which suits the chilli plants nicely. Humans, on the other hand, destroy the chilli seeds during digestion so the plant produces chemicals that make it taste spicy to us, to put us off eating it. 



I have chillies in my garden, chillies on the sink, chillies in the pantry, chillies pickling in the fridge. I have chilli pastes and chilli sauces, and whenever we go out for family dinner my dad whips out a little baggie of dried chillies from his pocket and we cut it up over whatever we're eating because restaurants almost NEVER get what I mean when I ask for triple chilli. Dad gets it. 

If you get it too, then this recipe is for you. It's based around some vague instructions I got given by a chef at a restaurant my family goes to religiously. His recipe was for a chilli paste, but I must have screwed up the ratio of oil-to-chillies while making it, because I ended up with this rich red chilli oil, with what seem to be fried chilli flakes suspended in it.



4 parts chillies (I used around 1-1.5 cups of birds eye chillies)

1 part garlic, thinly sliced (I used ~4-5 cloves)

a heap of olive oil (enough so that the chillies are fully submerged when they're in the saucepan, I used ~1.5-2 cups)

2 lemons (just the peel)

2 Tbsp dried chilli flakes


De-stem the chillies and chop them in half lengthwise. Gloves are a good idea. I know this because I didn't use gloves and my hands burnt for 24 hours. 

Put the chillies and diced garlic in a saucepan, and add enough olive oil so that they're completely covered

Bring the olive oil to the boil and let the chillies and garlic fry for a few minutes, depending on how crispy you want them. I let mine go for quite a while, until some of the chillies started to darken and then I got worried that I'd burnt them and ruined it (but I hadn't!).

Turn off the heat, and add the lemon peel. Leave to infuse for at least ten minutes. 

Add the chilli flakes, then blitz everything with a handheld blender to turn the fried chillies, lemon rind and garlic into a nice crumbly pile of goodness. 

Pour into sterilised bottles or jars. The bits of chilli go great as a topping to noodles, salads, roast pumpkin...basically everything. The oil has such a lovely red colour and can be used to fry anything that you want a little spicy, or to make a salad dressing with a kick.