The Internet Times Supplement

How To Make Chili Paste

In Food & Drink on July 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm

July 4th 2011

For those of you (many thousand) who visit this page, it would be nice to hear of your own success (or not) with making chili paste. Additionally, any recipes you have of your own that differ/improve upon from the recipe I give… Lesbian sex LIVE video

October 12th 2010

I have added another post re ‘What to do with lots of chilies?’…

June 18th 2010

Note: Trying to catch up with myself on the chili posts so please bear with me. Should you try this, please let me know by leaving a comment. If you need some specific help on chili preparations then also leave a comment and I will update this post.

UPDATE Feb 9 2010: By popular request I will be adding a couple of more chili posts like this one shortly. I have a good recipe on how to make Thai chili paste which I will add. In addition, I have a good recipe for Nam Prik Pao which is a roasted chili paste containing palm sugar and tamarind. My good friends G & S have tried this. S is Thai and she and her friends polished off a large jar of this and begged me to make some more. This is certainly NOT a task to take on lightly. More on the hazards of making this in the post.

When you have an abundance of chili peppers the first question to come to mind is “What do I do with all of these chilies?”. One method of preservation covered here is to make a chili paste. With any method there are different recipes and preferences regarding ingredients. If you are lucky to have several pounds of chilies then you can simply grind down the chilies into a smooth paste and preserve.

Here I show how to make a generic chili paste using a mix of green chilies. I bulk out the mix with cilantro, onion, and garlic. This is similar to how Thai green curry paste is made… but that is for another time.


250g (just over half a pound) of chilies
One large Onion
One Large Head of Garlic
Medium bunch of cilantro


1. Get all of the ingredients together. Note the mix of chilis are:

Bishops Crown, Cherry Bomb, Kenyan Mini, Kenyan Medium, Jalapeno, Thai Bird, and a rather mean and hot one I cannot identify.

It is also important to note that the garlic is LARGE. Spanish, but similar to an Elephant Garlic.

2. This is a medium sized pok-pok. A Thai pestle and mortar which is simply THE best way to mash stuff up as far as I am concerned as it is truly solid and heavy. It is really suited for pounding things into a good mush. If you do a lot of food prep like that shown here I totally recommend you find one. You will not regret it. This is a top view. Thanks to Sanan for introducing me to the wonders of this kitchen implement. It is better than other pestle and mortars that we have for the task of mushing large amounts of stuff down due to its conical shape.

IF you think that a blender is better then use one. Note that you should use a closed blender and not a hand one. When using a hand blender you are at risk of particles of chili and/or chili juice flying about at high speed. For a closed blender I would recommend cleaning it afterwards with bread soaked in milk or yoghurt and THEN washing it normally after that.

The more ‘traditional ‘ marble pestle and mortar is fine for grinding spices but the pok pok allows the material that is pushed upward by the thumping process to fall back down to the centre and any juices do not spatter out. My only regret is that I did not buy the larger one. Luggage space being what it is, I had to carry the mortar (the bowl bit) as hand luggage with the pestle (the stick bit made out of bamboo heart I believe) being checked in. I would challenge anyone to travel with what is essentially a policeman’s short nightstick through airport security gates AND get away with it… It is solid, heavy, and could be used for self defence…

3. Peel the onion and garlic then chop these coarsely and add them to the pok pok.

4. At this point, a word of really obvious advice regarding chili peppers. Even the best of us can make mistakes with them. Chili peppers contain capsaicin which is a pretty potent irritant at the best of times and used in pepper sprays at the worst of times to incapacitate someone. Caution is strongly recommended while preparing chilis. When I cut off the stalks of the chilis I used the wooden board without thinking. A good scrubbing with hot water will sort this out.

We use wooden chopping boards and have several we use for different purposes. You would not necessarily want to be cutting bread on a board that has been used for chopping garlic for example. If you have been chopping chilies… I believe it is obvious. When you are working with chilies or any strongly flavoured food product there is no substitute for a glass board. Note the one at the top of the picture above. For chilies though I use a board that immediately goes into the dishwasher. This is a piece of reinforced glass I use specifically for the purpose. When I remember that is… 🙂

Note that I also protect my hands with a plastic bag secured with a loose elastic band when working with chilies. It is a simple case of peeling the bag outside in when you take it off and dispose of the bag and the elastic band. There is nothing worse than rubbing your eyes or nose with capsaicin on them. In fact it can be very dangerous. Care should be taken when going to the toilet also. Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER with lots of hot soapy water to disperse the chili oil. Trust me, it can be very painful and something you will not forget. Some of the chilies I have are at the higher end of the Scoville Scale. Note that this means of determining the ´hotness´ (level of capsaicin) is VERY subjective (e.g. as a chili lover I have acquired a certain level of tolerance and what I think is mild would possibly be considered ¨incredibly hot¨ by someone else. This is where HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography) comes into play. Now, all that is needed is a proper list somewhere for different chili types… ho hum… meanwhile… here.

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Wooden boards ARE more hygenic than plastic boards and this has been proven following an EU directive a few years back that forced restaurants to switch to plastic boards. Chefs across Europe were up in arms regarding this. When you make a cut in a wooden chopping board the cut lifts up. Scrubbing the board in hot water afterwards will open the wood and release any particles trapped. With a plastic board a cut will lift, trap food, and then close. Within the EU, the levels of salmonella / E. Coli poisoning showed a significant spike following the introduction of this law. As a result, the choice of board use was left with the restaurants and kitchens. Here is just one link in relation to this. Simple research will keep you safe in the kitchen.

5. The only cilantro I had was some pretty sorry looking stuff that had suffered due to the high temperatures (37-41C/100-115F) and humidity we have been experiencing for the past couple of weeks. Like all of these things, simply pick out the skanky bits and away you go.

Chop the cilantro, add this to your onions and garlic in the pok pok, and bash away. As an important point, using a blender here will tend to mash things too finely so that you end up with a slop rather than a mush-like substance which is what you are aiming for.



Place the onion, garlic, and cilantro mix into a bowl and place in the fridge while you continue with the next step.

6. Chop up the chilies (NB: no photo here as I was more concerned with my personal safety than capturing the moment that chilies are chopped) and add them to the pok pok. Carefully mash and bash away. This takes time but it is worth it.



For this particular mix you will note that I have not de-seeded the chilies. This is deliberate. For a smoother paste I would aim to remove these by removing the top, splitting the chili (not cutting completely through) with a knife from the bottom to the top, and then scraping (from the bottom to the top) with the edge of the knife to remove them.

People often make the mistake that the seeds are the hottest part of a chili when in fact they are not. The heat (capsaicin) comes from glands at the top of the pepper and it is the proximity of the seeds to these that transfers the capsaicin to them. I will cover how to reduce the heat of a chili pepper in another article.

7. At this point I normally transfer the chili paste to another bowl (as I did with the onion/garlic/cilantro mix) and leave this in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the flavours to come out more. For this example I simply mix the contents of both bowls, transfer these into a small pan, and place them over a low heat to cook.

Here again, I will make an important safety note. Make sure you close the door to the kitchen and open a window, or switch on an extractor fan. Additionally, keep children and small furry animals out. While the paste is cooking the steam created will contain a certain amount of capsaicin. If you are not used to it (or the chili peppers used have a high capsaicin content) you are likely to have problems. In this instance I place a lid over the pan and only remove it for stirring. You might just be able to see that I have a flame disperser beneath the pan to reduce the heat even more as the best method is to heat slowly and cook long.

7a. As the amount of chili paste I am making is small (about two jars) I am ‘doubling up’ on my jarring by making a pasta sauce using tomatoes grown on our roof terrace (2kg/4.5lbs of fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic, a gloop of olive oil, chop and cook slowly to reduce the liquid).

8. While these are both cooking away nicely I sterilise the jars in boiling water. Note that I reuse jars from other things we have bought. In particular, any jars with a pop-down/pop-up lid are particularly useful as they create a good seal. Not only is this cheaper than buying ‘special’ jars, it is also environmentally friendly and you can have a warm glowing feeling about that as well as from the chili.

For filling the jars I do not even use a special wide canning funnel (although these are available). I use the same funnel that came with the dishwasher for putting salt into the machine – necessary in high-calc areas in Europe – as it is a perfect fit for most jar necks. When the jars are filled to about a quarter inch from the top I put the lids on and put them in the pan to boil up for sealing.

Here they are in the pan before I put the lid on. Note that you can use a pressure cooker if you have one but it is not necessary. What IS important is to know what altitude you are at. This is what determines how long to boil the jars in the pan. This is due to the change in atmospheric pressure and the boiling point of water. Here is a good chart for this. We are at 650m/2000ft so add about 5-10% time onto what would normally be used for sealing jars.

If there is any excess from filling the jars then I normally use ice cube trays to store this. Each cube contains enough for a reasonably spicy meal dependent upon your taste buds (or lack of them).

9. Here is the finished product before being labeled. Note the calc on the side of the jars from boiling. The pasta sauce jar on the right I have wiped off with a damp cloth to show the difference. You could use salt in the water but what is the point when this will wash off easily.

10. Note that no preservative was used in the making of these. The sealed jars will keep for between two to five years if they are properly sealed. It depends upon the product, its acidity, and many other factors. It is not the purpose of this how-to to teach you everything about preserving but caution IS necessary in ensuring sterile jars and a proper seal. Nothing worse than having a toxic micro-environment on your storage shelves on a hot day… trust me on that one. Apart from leaking lids, if proper care is not taken there are risks of serious food poisoning.

The pasta sauce is a one use activity. i.e., you open the jar and use all of the contents. The chili paste is a multiple use container. Once opened the jar should be kept in the fridge or the contents transferred to ice cube trays immediately. As an alternative to extend the life once opened, a thin layer of olive oil can be poured over the top to prevent any fuzziness forming. You be the judge on this one…

During the preparation process I got a hankering for a curry. While I was making the chili paste and the pasta sauce I also knocked together a dhal and chicken curry. Having worked in Pakistan, while there I picked up a couple of cooking pots called “handi’s” that are normally used on the top of a clay chimney fire – cost? Less than $ 0.50c or about 15 euro cents. They are very effective/efficient at utilising heat so a low flame is all that is needed for cooking. Here I have the handi resting on a wok stand. If you do not have one of these then a clay pot or slow cooker works as second best…

Enjoy. As an additional note I will cover how to use the paste in a recipe or seven at some point in the future.

  1. Wow, very helpful!

  2. Thank you Leslie. I am in the process of some other similar postings (my tabasco sauce experiment is nearing 'fruition' for example..) so keep visiting. Just look for 'chili' in the search.

  3. Wow! Thanks for the good and thorough information.

    I'm so glad to see that someone has the sense to warn about working with chilis. I used to teach cooking in a Hotel and Restaurant program and was always careful to warn verbally as well as in print in the course materials. I'm always appalled when cookbook authors offer recipes using hot chilis and don't even warn about washing your hands, much less wearing gloves or, as you do, a plastic bag with a band.

    Anyway 😉 this info was just what I was looking for. Glad I found it because I was thinking it involved an oil base! Couldn't have been more wrong.
    Thanks again!

  4. […] of the most visited pages on my blog is ‘How to make chili paste/sauce‘. Below I have updated some information in relation to ‘What to do with all those […]

  5. So glad i found your page. I have a windfall of about 4 gallons of green cayenne peppers and was looking for some different things to do with them. Am fermenting some for sauce, made a batch of unfermented sauce, and now will use the rese for chili paste! Awesome information!

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