Pasilla chilli relish

Pasilla chilli relish

175 ml
Chris Middleton

Pasilla means raisin-like. Pasilla is a sweet and savoury chilli that is very popular in the food of Oaxaca, one of my favorite parts of Mexico. I like to think of this sauce as the Mexican mint sauce, as it goes so well with lamb and makes a great condiment for other meats too. Its fantastic bronze colour reflects a marinade full of complex flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
125g dried pasilla chillies, (see Latin Larder)
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves
2 large handfuls oregano leaves
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons merlot or sherry vinegar
sea salt, to taste


  1. Remove the stalks and seeds, then roughly chop the pasilla chillies.
  2. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in a medium frying pan set over medium–low heat. Fry the chillies for 2–3 minutes, until they begin to colour. Pour in enough boiling water to cover and set aside for 10 minutes to rehydrate.
  3. Meanwhile, heat an overhead grill to high heat.
  4. Place the garlic on a small tray and grill, turning occasionally, for about 5–7 minutes, until caramelised and dark golden brown.
  5. Drain the rehydrated chillies, reserving the liquid.
  6. Combine the chillies, remaining oil, garlic, oregano, cumin and pepper in a food processor or blender and process to make a coarse purée. Continue blending, gradually adding enough of the reserved liquid to make a smooth, thick purée.
  7. Combine the honey and vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, until reduced by half, to make a light caramel. Add to the chilli mixture and blend to combine. Gradually add a little more of the reserved liquid, blending to make a smooth relish. Season with salt. Set aside to cool.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
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