Red shatta (Palestinian chili condiment)

Fiery and addictive condiment that goes with just about anything.
Jar with red shatta, with a teaspoon lifting some shatta out of it, seen from above
Photo: Bahar Kitapcı
Jar with red shatta, with a teaspoon lifting some shatta out of it, seen from above

It’s all too easy to fall in love with shatta. Since making it the first time, I now tend to keep a jar of it in the fridge at all times. Luckily, it’s easy enough to make.

What is shatta?

Shatta is a fermented chili condiment – or hot sauce, if you like. It’s particularly popular in Palestine, but you’ll find it elsewhere in the Middle East, too.

There are two versions: Red and green. The main difference is the colour of the chiles, which shouldn’t be mixed. Kept separate, you’ll get jars of vibrant red or green. Mix, and you’ll get a brown mush.

The spiciness of shatta can vary considerably, depending on the chiles used. Homemade shatta tend to end up being hotter than commercial varieties, but if your peppers are hotter than you can handle, you can always mix in a little sweet pepper to control the heat.

Red shatta in a glass jar, seen from the side, with lots of other jars and bottles around
Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

How shatta is made

Shatta needs just three ingredients: chili, salt and olive oil. Salt to help the fermentation, and olive oil for consistency and preservation.

The hot peppers are traditionally sun dried. In modern times, other methods help speed the process along.

The most common way of making home made shatta is to leave the chilies for a short time on the kitchen counter, to draw out water and start the fermentation process. After a couple of days, you simply drain it and add vinegar to the mix instead. Much more practical for mos of us. This is the method that I use.

Some like to add herbs or spices to the mix, but I prefer my shatta plain.

close-up of red shatta in a jar
Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

What I like to use it with

Since it’s fairly fresh and usually not spiced, shatta is incredibly versatile. It’s an effortless way to add a fresh chili kick to just about anything.

It goes really well with fish or roast vegetables that are otherwise quite simply prepared. I also like it with hummus and falafel! But it also works wonders on meat, particularly fattier cuts that needs a sharp contrast. And why not with roast chicken?

I use it less as an ingredient in the cooking itself. I don’t add shatta to my stews or braises, for example. In those instances, I tend to opt for chili flakes, Turkish red pepper paste, harissa or, indeed, fresh chilies.

This recipe makes a small jar of shatta, which you’ll certainly use up quicker than you think.

Jar with red shatta, with a teaspoon lifting some shatta out of it, seen from above

Red shatta (Palestinian chili condiment)

Fiery and addictive condiment that goes with just about anything.
Tried this? Be the first to give a rating
Condiment, Ingredient
Middle East, Palestine
2 days
1 small jar
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  • 200 g red chili peppers, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt, 2 1/2 tsp if using kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, or another good vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for topping

How I make it

  • Crush the chili peppers with the salt until it’s chunky, but without large pieces. You can use a stick blender, kitchen machine or a pestle and mortar for this. Transfer to a clean jar. Place the lid on top, but do not screw it closed. Leave on the kitchen counter for 48 hours.
  • Empty the jar into a clean sieve set over a bowl. Leave to drain for a few minutes.
  • Return the drained chilies to the jar. Add the vinegar and enough olive oil to make a saucy consistency.
  • Cover with a layer of olive oil, screw the lid tight and place in the fridge. It’s good to use immediately, but the flavour will be improved if you leave it for at least a week before diving in.

Tips & notes

After every use, flatten the top of the shatta in the jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. This’ll make it keep much longer.
Did you make this recipe?I’d love it if you’d be kind enough to leave a rating and a short comment.

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar, a Norwegian food writer based in Istanbul since 2015.

Join me in exploring the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East.

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Hey, there!

I’m Vidar Bergum, a food writer based in Istanbul since 2015. I’ve published three books on the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East in my native Norway.

This website and my newsletter Meze are the homes of my writing and recipes in English.

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2 responses

  1. Hi Vidar. I haven’t made this yet, I have a couple of questions first.
    I live in Los Angeles, California, where we have a huge number of red chili peppers in the store to choose from. They are mainly from the Mexican kitchen, and vary in flavor and heat. Most are dried, but some can be found fresh. Shatta seems similar to the Italian Bomba fermented chili condiment, which uses dried Calabrian chilis. Any idea what kind is best to use for this recipe? Also, can I substitute the white vinegar with red wine vinegar?

    Tusen takk.

    1. Hi Simon. This should be made with fresh chilis. Feel free to use any type that suits your preferred level of hotness. Red wine vinegar should be perfectly fine. Good luck!

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