Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tomato chilli jam

My mother and I are very different cooks. I'm a recipe-follower, she's more of a free-wheeler, adding and subtracting ingredients, changing cooking times, processes, and equipment, following her instincts. I clean as I go when I cook (a by-product of living in an apartment with a small kitchen) and she, well, to put it bluntly, does not. These fundamentally different approaches mean that when the two of us are in the kitchen together we drive each other crazy. After every visit home I vow never to put myself in that situation again. But her tomato chilli jam is so good it was worth making an exception.

My mum, a keen gardener, jokingly refers to this savoury jam as dynamic lifter. And indeed, it does elevate anything it's spread on to a whole new level of flavour. Mum uses it most often on a sandwich or with crackers and cheese, but it would be great dolloped on eggs, corn fritters, served alongside a sausage roll or swirled into sour cream as a dipping sauce. The heat of the chilli is offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes (and the sugar they're cooked with!) so if you're worried about serving it to anyone averse to spicy things, don't be. Conversely, if you like things hot (and you're more of a recipe-meddler, like my mother), you may want to up the chilli content. Whatever your approach, you can't go wrong.

Tomato chilli jam
Adapted from a recipe by Tamsin Day-Lewis

In accordance with our differing philosophies, I have transcribed the original recipe below, with Mum's variations in brackets so you can choose your own adventure. This quantity makes 3 medium size jars.

500 g very ripe tomatoes (plus a handful of cherry tomatoes if you're Mum)
4 cloves garlic, peeled 
4 red chillies 
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
30 ml fish sauce
300 g golden caster sugar (Mum uses raw)
100 ml red wine vinegar (Mum uses sherry vinegar)

Dice half the quantity of tomatoes (Mum does the lot).

Blend the whole (or all the diced) tomatoes in a food processor along with the garlic, chillies, ginger and fish sauce until the mixture reaches a pureƩ consistency.

Pour the mixture into a deep heavy-based pan together with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and slowly stir.

Once the mixture has reached boiling point, reduce to a simmer and add the remaining tomatoes (instead Mum tosses in a few cherry tomatoes from her garden).

Skim off any scum that forms with a metal spoon and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. (If you happen to get distracted by something and the mixture cooks longer than this - don't worry - the texture will just be thicker, and have a nice caramelised flavour).

Pour the mixture into a warmed sterilised jar. Seal while still warm and label the jars when cold. 


  1. Sounds yummy! Can't wait for Susan to make some!

  2. Looks delicious, just the thing to heat you up in the winter chill.