The Bombay Canteen

The one with many avatars - Fermented Red Chillies

Rs. 100

Flavour Notes

An initial kick of spice followed by a pleasant zing. Pungent on the nose.


While fresh red chillies are a part of our daily cooking routine at The Bombay Canteen, we also like to treat our chillies in a few different ways to finish off the dish and slip in a kick of spice when required. One such method is fermenting them. Fermentation brings out different dimensions of a usually mundane ingredient and deepens its flavour.

The idea of fermenting chillies came from the conceptualization process that the kitchen team employs when they think about how spices will interact and the new dishes we want to create. While some dishes need that instant punch of spice from fresh red chillies, some need a spicy sour finish to round off the flavours, and that’s when fermented chillies come into play! Fermentation has been used in India for ages.

Chef Hussain’s memories trace back to him tasting water pickled mangoes in Goa that are soaked in a brine of water, red chillies and vinegar. Travel has always inspired our flavours and techniques at The Bombay Canteen, and this is just one such by product!


  • Make the brine solution
  • Add 5kgs of locally available, whole, fresh red chillies into a jar
  • Add 15 cups of mineral water. Entirely submerge the chillies in water
  • Add 10tbsp of Goan or rock salt to the water. Iodised salt will not work.
  • Let the jar sit for 24-48 hours in a warm place. A kitchen top would be ideal.
  • After 48 hours, burp or open the lid of the jar once to release the pent-up carbon dioxide in the ferment. You will notice lots of bubbles in your jar!
  • You will know it is done when the water starts getting murky and the chillies float to top.
  • Strain the water. The chillies are ready to use.

Note: This technique is called lacto fermentation. This means that the lactobacillus bacteria present in the air feeds off the skin of the chillies in a controlled environment. A “controlled environment” simply means that we are giving the bacteria the correct temperature, humidity and any other necessary factors it needs to thrive. We add salt to control the bacteria’s reaction. This helps create a slow release of flavour.

The Bombay Canteen uses this for

The Ponzu on the Beef Tartare. We also dress the Sarson with the chillies.

You can use this for

You can use this to make yourself a fiery hot sauce or a chilli dip. You can also amp up the spice in your sandwich.