In Singapore, when you buy frozen pre-made Indian pastries like samosas or parathas, you get a little packet of frozen tamarind chutney too. It’s not something that I’d ever tried before living in Singapore, but it is a delicious sweet and sour condiment that is kind of like an Indian tomato sauce or ketchup. I had been craving it and while I’m sure you could buy it here in an Asian grocer, I decided that I wanted to try and make it myself. I looked up some recipes and then, as per usual, I kind of made up my own version anyway, but the flavour is spot on. Of course this is delicious with traditional Indian pastries and savoury snacks, but I’ve also been enjoying it a lot with sausages and also with bacon and eggs.
You’ll need to get your hands on some seedless tamarind. I got mine from my local Indian grocer and if you have one nearby, they should have some too. It normally comes in a block and you have to pull the sticky fruit apart.
Tamarind is quite tart, so it pairs well with sweetness to make a sweet and tart sauce. It’s a damn delicious base for this chutney.
The sticky tamarind and dates don’t look much at this point, but they will start to cook down and soften in the water and after about 10 minutes you can add in the sugar.
I used jaggery (sometimes called gud) as the sweetener. Jaggery is an an Indian unrefined cane sugar and you’ll find it at a good Indian grocer. It’s quite hard and flaky and you might need to grate or crumble it, depending on the brand that you use. You could very easily substitute brown sugar or panela, but I love the raw sweetness of jaggery which somehow also seems to have a slight salty flavour to it.
While the tamarind and sugar mix is cooking, quickly toast your coriander and cumin and then grind it.
After the sugar is added, the fruit will break down even more and the mix will thicken slightly.
After processing the mix, push the chutney through a sieve. Quite a lot of fibre will still be in the chutney, so you want to make sure you get rid of all of it.
You may need to add more water to the chutney as you process it. The texture needs to be just runny enough to push through the sieve without being too liquid.
Tamarind chutney is delicious with traditional Indian pastries and savoury snacks like parathas. I’ve also discovered that it is damn delicious with sausages and bacon & eggs.
I made these parathas from Katie at the Kitchen Door.
The chutney will keep well in a sealed jar in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.
Ingredients – Makes about 1½ cups of chutney
- ½ cup of firmly packed, seedless tamarind
- ½ cup of seedless dates, roughly chopped
- ½ cup of grated jiggery or brown sugar
- 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of whole coriander seeds
- ½ tsp of dry ground ginger
- 1 tsp of sea salt flakes
- ½ tsp of amchur powder – optional
- In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, add the tamarind and dates with 2 cups of water. Bring up to a simmer bashing a bit with a wooden spoon to help the fruit break up. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring and bashing occasionally until soft.
- Add the jaggery and reduce the heat to low. Continue stirring occasionally and cook for another 10-12 minutes until the mix is very soft and has thickened slightly.
- While the fruit is cooking with the sugar, toast the cumin and coriander in a small dry frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Grind in a mortar and pestle until completely broken up and a rough powder consistency.
- Once the fruit and sugar mixed has cooked for the second 10 minute period, add the ground spices, ginger, amchur powder and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with the salt and then let the chutney cool slightly for about 10 minutes before pureeing in a processor. Add a little water, 2 tbs at a time, to assist the mix break down if need be. The texture needs to be just runny enough to push through a sieve, without being too liquid.
- Once it is completely pureed and broken down, push it through a sieve in batches and discard the tamarind fibres. Season with a little more salt if required.
- Store the chutney in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge. It will keep well for a few weeks.
- The chutney is delicious served at room temperature with traditional Indian pastries and it’s also fantastic with sausages or bacon and eggs.