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Servings: 650 ml


  • 500 ml oil (see notes)
  • 20 dried red chillies
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2" piece of ginger
  • 1/3 cup shallots (or onion)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 star anise

Add-ins (optional):

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large or 2 small pieces of cassia
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Add dried chillies, ginger, garlic, and shallots to a blender or food processor. Coarsely blend. You want some texture here, so pulse instead of continuously blending.
  • Coarsely pulse the Sichuan peppercorns, cassia bark and bay leaf if using.
  • Decant into a bowl and mix in the sugar, salt, star anise and sesame seeds. Set aside.
  • Add the oil to a large saucepan. (We are going to add the aromats into the hot oil which will make it sputter and bubble up wildly. So use a saucepan where the oil only comes about halfway up the top.)
  • Heat the oil. Test with a piece of ginger: drop it in. If it starts to sizzle and brown right away, your oil is ready. Take off the heat.
  • So here’s the bit you want to be careful about: add the aromats to a large ladle and lower it gently into the oil. As soon as it hits the oil it will sputter and bubble for a few seconds, so make sure to stand back. Wearing oven mitts wouldn't be a bad idea.
  • Let it sit for a minute. Stir a few times to make sure there are no large clumps at the bottom.
  • Let it cool to room temperature, then decant into a glass jar and refrigerate. To use, mix and use both the oil and the bits together.


Adapted from Adhira Swami
I used long dried red chillies. The dried round ones would work too.
Oil: use any neutral flavoured oil. I used rice bran. Vegetable or sunflower oil are other alternatives.