Tamarind chutney is a condiment that is the Indian version of sweet & sour. It is made from a combination of tamarind pulp with sugar. Tamarind chutney is used on almost all Indian snack foods, from bhel to samosas.
The tamarind chutney I serve is almost always chutney that I have made myself. It isn’t that difficult to do, and I think it tastes way better than anything out of a jar.
Tamarind chutney is very common in North Indian dishes, especially farsan, the Gujarati fast food. I love to smother my pani puri and bhel with too much tamarind chutney. The sweet and sour flavor works so well with the fried sev, puffed rice, puri, or anything else fried that it can soak into!
What is Tamarind?
Tamarind is fruit from a legume. Think of a pea pod; the pulp is found in the space between the seeds and the outer layer of the pod. When I was a kid, we would take tamarind pods and eat just the tamarind straight off the pod.
When the tamarind is ripe, the outer shell becomes crunchy and easily flakes off. The pulp is like candy without sweetness.
We would play with the seeds as kids. Since they were slick and just the right size, we could put them between our fingers and launch them like marbles. They are not round like marbles, but they shoot like them without rolling.
This is the same tamarind used in many Mexican candies, called “tamarindo,” which I also love. The tree is native neither to India nor Mexico but from Africa.
Aside from the chutney, tamarind is often used as a souring agent, similar to kokum and lemon.
- 14 oz block of tamarind pulp
- 4 cups water
- 3 ½ cups sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch of chili powder optional
- Boil the water in a pot.
- Add tamarind pulp and allow to steep for about 20 minutes. Stir and break up the tamarind pulp as it softens.
- Remove the pulp by running it through a large mesh sieve or colander, returning the liquid to the pot.
- Heat the liquid, add sugar and chili powder. Add water or boil off any excess water until you get a syrupy consistency.