Masala Chilli Crisp

This crispy, aromatic chilli oil is exactly what you need to get you through the winter. Inspired by some of my favourite Indian flavours, it’s loaded with curry leaves, Kashmiri chilli, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and more. It’s great on just about everything – rice, noodles, fish, chicken, eggs, vegetables, soups… you name it!

  • Author: zenak
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1 jar 1x


  • 2 tbsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (mild or hot)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 x 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • ½ star anise
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 10g fresh curry leaf sprig, leaves only
  • 250 ml vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 large shallot (echalion shallot), very thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves, very thinly sliced


  1. Place the crushed red pepper flakes, kashmiri chilli powder, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon stick, star anise, fresh ginger, light soy sauce and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Season with a pinch of salt, top with a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
  2. Place the curry leaves and vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the curry leaves are crisp, then fish out the curry leaves with a slotted spoon or spider. You can save these to add to your favourite curry, dal or even rice.
  3. Carefully add the sliced shallots and garlic. Reduce the heat to low/medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and garlic are deeply golden (but not burnt!). Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to high to speed up the process. Extracting the moisture from the shallots and garlic, which is key to crisping them up, takes time – anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.  If the shallots and garlic aren’t deeply golden brown after 20 minutes, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
  4. Strain the shallot-garlic-oil mixture into chilli mix you prepared earlier and stir to combine.
  5. Though the shallots and garlic are now browned, they are still a little limp. You need to let them cool in the sieve to fully crisp up.
  6. Once cooled, stir the shallots and garlic into the chilli oil.
  7. Once the chilli crisp is fully cooled, remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for up to a month. Stir well before serving.
  8. You can use it as soon as it cools down, but it’s even better the day after once the flavours have had a chance to develop and meld together.
  9. Storage: it will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 month. 


Doubling the recipe will increase the time needed to cook the shallots and garlic (around 20 to 25 minutes).

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Dionne Osman
2 months ago

This was STELLAR!! Made it today and it tastes so amazing. Can’t wait for it develop more as the days go by!!! So yummy. The recipe was simple and straightforward to follow. Thank you for this yummy treat 😊