Chili Buah Keras

I'm surprised I didn't post this earlier as this is something I always have in my freezer and I put it in a lot of our dishes for that extra zing. This recipe has been adapted from my granny's original chili paste which included salt. I took out the salt and included garlic and a touch of gula melaka (this is optional). And yes, this was always in her freezer, except that she would freeze the ground ingredients separately, then fry them together whenever it's needed.

I remember standing next to her as she prepared it. She seldom measured her ingredients, prefering to use instinct, memory and taste. She would constantly tell me, "just taste it to see if it needs more xxxx". The measurements in my recipe below are those I use myself, but the good thing about chili paste is that you can vary the ingredient proportions easily, adding more or less depending on personal preference.

I don't know what the original name of this chili paste is, but my granny simply called it Chili Buah Keras. Buah Keras is malay for candlenut. I replaced it with macadamia nuts because I just can't find candlenuts in Taipei.

Store bought chili pastes tend to be high in salt, so the advantage of home-made is obviously better control over the amount of salt added into the paste. In this case, I do not add any salt, which deviates from my granny's original chili paste. Since this paste is usually added to other dishes like fried ikan bilis and peanuts, fried rice and noodles, adding into cooked vegetables, etc, it should just add a nice touch of spicyness into the dish, and not more salt.

Chili is rich with vitamin C, which among many other things, is an antioxident - good for the heart. It also contains nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and lowers blood pressure.

My granny used mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients, but I use my Kenwood blender. She also ground the ingredients separately, only combining them when needed. I tried frying all the ingredients together and then freezing them. It works for me as it cuts down on time and storage.

I usually fry it on medium to high heat for about 5 minutes, then on low heat for about 30 minutes for the flavours to come together. I use a wok, but frying pan is fine.

I like to fry a large batch, then after it cools, I place a dollop on a square of cling film, then seal it and store all the little packs in my freezer. I just take out what I want when I want it, thaw it, add it to a dish, cook it, and that's it, all done. A dollop is about 20gm, and this recipe makes about 22 dollops.

Some dishes I spice with Chili Buah Keras are fried ikan bilis and peanuts and ikan chili buah keras (fish stuffed with chili paste). For those lazy days, I just fry an egg and eat with this paste. Yum! It can also be added to fried kangkong (water spinach), fried rice and noodles, and even added in small amounts into tuna for tuna sandwiches. It can be added to almost anything to spice it up for some oomph.


Chili Buah Keras


  • 100gm unseeded dried chili

  • 2 - 3 unseeded chili padi (optional - these are very spicy, so just 2 or 3 will do. You can put more if you wish, but you should not make this condiment too spicy or it will overshadow the dish)

  • 5 pieces of buah keras (or candlenuts). I used macadamia nuts, which work just as well.

  • 5 - 8 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • a pinch of grated gula melaka (or coconut palm sugar)

  • Canola oil for frying


  1. Ground and blend all ingredients together, except oil

  2. Heat oil and fry the mixture for about 5 minutes on medium heat, then simmer and fry occasionally for another 30 minutes for the flavour to set.

  3. Put aside to cool, then either bottle them and put in the refrigerator, whichi will last for about 2 weeks, or like me, put dollops into cling film squares, twist ends to seal and freeze.

Nutrition Disclaimer

#chili #condiments #sambal

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