Tamarind Chutney

Also known as tamarind chutney or saunth this tart, spicy and slightly sweet sauce is an essential ingredient to spoon over various street chaats or to serve as a dipping sauce for pakoras or samosas. The tamarind sauce will keep refrigerated for several weeks in a well sealed glass jar.

Tamarind Chutney
Serves: makes about 2 cups
  • 7 oz tamarind block
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 5 tablespoons jaggery (or brown sugar)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, roasted then ground
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, roasted then ground
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoon salt
Making Tamarind Water/Puree
Carefully cut the tamarind block into eight equal pieces. Place the tamarind into a deep medium-sized bowl and cover with the hot water. Let soften for five minutes and then use a potato masher, back of the spoon or even your hands to break and mash the pulp pieces. The tamarind pulp will begin to dissolve into the water and separate from the fibrous husk and seeds. Soak the tamarind for 20 more minutes. Strain the pulpy water through a fine meshed strainer, using the back of a spoon (or your hands) to extract as much pulp as possible. Discard the fibrous husk remaining in the strainer.

Finishing the Tamariand Chutney
Place the strained tamarind pulp, jaggery, roasted and ground spices, and salt into a saucepan. !Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes. The mixture should be slightly thickened and shiny. If the mixture becomes too thick, add water as necessary. If it's too thin, bring the mixture back to a boil for a couple of minutes to let some of the water evaporate.
Jaggery is dehyrdated sugar cane juice primarily made by small cultivators in rural villages. It has a smoky caramel flavour which is hard to substitute, although brown or dermera sugar is the closest equivalent.

NOTE: This was originally posted on my blog India On My Plate on August 12, 2011

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