Surprisingly, I haven’t found giving up sugar for Lent all that difficult. There are only eleven days to go until it’s over and although there are some things I could really fancy, like a big family sized bar of Dairy Milk, I’ve actually quite enjoyed it. I didn’t eat a great deal of added refined sugar before hand; I don’t take sugar in my tea and I don’t eat that much processed food or ready made meals. However, I did eat quite a few biscuits and bars of chocolate and would always end up with the inevitable sugar headache and crushing guilt, which I do not miss in the slightest.
I’ve quite enjoyed finding sugar free alternatives and natural sweetening methods, but one thing that can’t be substituted is a proper, sticky, sweet chilli sauce. I love sweet chilli sauce and given the chance, I would happily smother is on anything and everything. I’ve tried to find one, but there are no ready made sweet chilli sauces without sugar, because it’s essential for the sweet taste and to give it that gloopy, unctuous texture.
In preparation for Easter Sunday, when I plan to go on the biggest sugar binge with the sluttiest chocolate brownie you’ve ever seen (post to follow) I’ve made my own sweet chilli jam. The chilli jam in Nandos is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, but they haven’t got round to selling it in jars yet *sobs*. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and is really thick and gloopy, so I’ve tried to recreate it myself and in my humble opinion, I’ve come pretty damn close.
I must admit, I like it quite hot and spicy but if you prefer it a bit more mild then feel free to remove a chilli or two, it’l still be just as delicious. There is quite a bit of sugar in this recipe, however there is probably less than you would get from a shop bought version. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but you can control the amount of sugar you are adding so if you want to use less, then go for it.
Sweet and Smoky Chilli Jam
5 red romano peppers
4 cloves of garlic
4 red chillies
8 cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
200g soft brown sugar
150ml white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1-Deseed and roughly chop the peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes and soften in a large saucepan on a medium heat.
2-Roughly chop the chillies and add them to the pan once the onions are translucent. Deseed the chillies first if you would prefer a milder sauce.
3-Add the chilli flakes, coriander and paprika along with the sugar and vinegar. Cover the mixture with water and allow it to simmer for roughly ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
4-Using a hand blender, blitz the mixture until it is nice and smooth.
5-Continue to cook down the mix until it is shiny and thick, season to taste.
6-Store in an air tight container like a clip-top Kilner jar and keep it in a cool, dry cupboard until you’re ready to eat it.
7-Once opened, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but mine never lasts that long!