Dipping Oils

Whenever I am at an Italian restaurant, I find the temptation to dip warm bread into the olive oil served at the table, simply irresistible! Drawing inspiration from the diverse flavors of dipping oils encountered in countless Italian eateries, both in Italy and beyond, I’ve crafted my own ‘signature concoction’ rooted in my Maharashtrian-Indian heritage – the Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip.

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

the italian dining experience

More often than not, in an Italian restaurant, the bread and dipping oil arrive at the table right after you’re seated. Even before glancing at the menu, I can’t resist breaking the bread and dipping it into the oil served alongside. The excitement builds with the anticipation of that first bite as I gaze at the little dish beside the bread. Typically filled with a medley of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of dried or fresh herbs with red chili peppers, it’s a simple and humble appetizer that sets the stage for a delightful and authentic Italian dining experience.

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

Recreating the experiences at home

I love recreating the dining-out experience at home. So, whenever I plan to make Italian food for dinner, I begin by serving a dipping oil alongside some warm bread. I’ve experimented with various dipping oil recipes sourced from the internet, exploring countless combinations of fresh and dried herbs, cheeses, spices, vinegars, and olive oil flavors. With quality ingredients and fresh bread, it becomes a fail-proof appetizer that is sure to please anyone!

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

The last time I was searching for an olive oil dip recipe, I had an ‘aha’ moment! What if I infused the olive oil with the bold flavors of my Maharashtrian-Indian heritage and created my very own masterpiece – a Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip.

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

Maharashtrian thecha

Thecha is a fiery and flavorful condiment originating from the vibrant culinary landscape of Maharashtra, India and holds a revered place in Maharashtrian households. This spicy chutney is typically crafted from green chilies, garlic, and a selection of optional aromatics like raw peanuts, cilantro, etc. and spices like cumin or mustard seeds, etc. The ingredients are skillfully hand-pounded in a mortar and pestle or pulsed in a food grinder/processor, resulting in a satisfyingly coarse paste.

Chili-Garlic Thecha

With a delightful combination of heat and intense flavors, its pleasing texture and flavor can be elevated further by sautéing it in hot oil seasoned with spices (known as ‘phodani’ or ‘tadka’), like the Daanyacha Thecha, which is the most loved in my family. Alternatively, it can stand on its own, a perfect companion to its classic pairing – Bhakri, an unleavened sorghum or millet flatbread. In any form, Thecha serves as a zesty accompaniment, effortlessly spicing up and elevating any meal.

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

Thecha is the perfect candidate to transform into a flavorsome dipping oil, thanks to its delightful taste, texture, and the time and effort invested in making it. My recipe for creating the Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip is not only delicious but also quick and easy. It comes together in just 5 minutes, requiring only 5 key ingredients: fresh garlic, green chilies, salt, sugar, and lemon-flavored olive oil.

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

I specifically opted for lemon-infused olive oil to enhance the vibrant contrast to the intense heat from the green chilies and the pungency of the garlic. However, feel free to use any plain or other variety of infused olive oil, and consider introducing additional spices such as cumin seeds or black peppercorns, along with aromatics like cilantro, green onion, etc. into the mix. I guarantee, it’ll only enhance the flavor profile and help elevate your appetizer game with a unique and incredibly flavorful olive oil dip!

Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

Ready to transform your bread-dipping experience by infusing the bold flavors of Maharashtrian-Indian heritage into this unique Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip? Let’s savor the fusion of cultures – try my recipe and make it your own! I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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Chili-Garlic Thecha Olive Oil Dip

Thecha Olive Oil Dip

  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: Serves 2-3 1x


Easy, 5-minute recipe for bread dipping olive oil, flavored with classic Maharashtrian-Indian condiment, Chili Garlic Thecha


Units Scale
  • 56 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 56 Thai or bird’s eye green chilies, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or as needed
  • 1/4 tsp sugar (see FAQs & Notes +Variations)
  • 1/4 cup lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil (see Variations)


  • Transfer the garlic, green chilies along with salt and sugar to a mortar. 
  • Using the pestle, start by gently pounding the chilies and the garlic. Be careful to not pound it hard as the juices, especially from the chilies, might fly out into your eyes!
  • Continue pounding till the garlic and chilies are ground to a paste with coarse consistency. 
  • Alternatively, you can also use a mini food processor or a spice grinder to make the ground paste.
  • Transfer to a shallow dipping bowl or a plate. 
  • Drizzle the olive oil and stir to combine. 
  • Serve with a warm bread like cubed focaccia or sliced baguette (see FAQs & Notes + Variations).

Keywords: Quick & Easy, Restaurant Inspired

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Find Thai chilies too spicy?

You can control the amount of heat by using lesser quantities or milder chili peppers like Serrano, jalapeño or dried crushed red chili peppers.

Why sugar?

Sugar goes into the traditional Thecha recipe and balances out the overall spicy, pungent and salty flavor of the ground paste. You can use a couple drops of honey or a zero-calorie sweetener, if you prefer.

What else to serve it with?

This unique dipping oil is great to dip not just warm bread but also Indian breads like naan or tandoori roti or kulchas! It also pairs well with a soft, spongy Turkish breads.

Recipe Variations

You can tone down the heat in the dipping oil by using aromatics like roughly chopped cilantro, green onions or other herbs of your choice.

Throw in some nuts like roasted peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts, etc. into the mortar to make a chunky and nutty dipping oil.

Add in cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, whole grain mustard to enhance the flavor of the dipping oil.

You can use plain or any other flavored olive oil to make it.

Stir the Chili-Garlic Thecha paste into Greek yogurt to create creamy dip to be served with crudités or pita chips

Combine the Chili-Garlic Thecha paste with mayonnaise to use as a sandwich spread.

Mix the Chili-Garlic Thecha paste into cream cheese to smear on your bagels.

Happy cooking

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.


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