For dripping & drizzling
A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and a little bit sour, tamarind date chutney is an Indian staple that is an essential accompaniment to all kinds of snacks. It is the perfect foil for crunchy, savory pakoras, samosas, bhel puri, and all sorts of chaats. I think of tamarind chutney as an Indian version of the American ketchup. It goes with almost everything. Along with green chutney, these two staples are the vibrant condiments to Indian food the world over. And you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to make. This recipe is better than anything you can get from a jar. You will also have the advantage of tweaking the ingredients to please your taste buds and those you are cooking for.
For the tamarind component, ideally, you will find a block of seedless tamarind paste or a good quality concentrate like the one from Pure Indian Foods. Tamicon’s tamarind paste is also a reliable favorite. If you are using a block of tamarind paste with seeds, you will need to soak the paste in hot water for at least 3 hours and then pick out the seeds. Another easy way to speed up the preparation of this recipe is to find seedless dates, though if you can't find them, removing the seeds from dates isn’t very time-consuming.
It is all about balance!
My tangy tamarind date chutney was inspired by one of my favorite Indian food blogs, bhel puri. As she points out, a good tamarind chutney's success comes from getting the balance of sweet, sour, and heat just right. I encourage you to follow this recipe as is the first time, then play with the spicing from there. Besides getting to create a chutney to your specifications, this sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for several weeks. Since I only cook for two, I store any chutney that I don’t think I will need in that timeframe in zip bags in the freezer.
Depending on how you plan on using tamarind date chutney, you may need to add a bit of hot water to gain the consistency you want. The dates tend to make the sauce thick, as does storing it in the refrigerator.
There is nothing quite like fresh homemade condiments, so if you are a chutney person, try one of my three green chutney recipes as well. Cilantro mint chutney and tamarind chutney are often served side by side, so give these recipes a try and let me know how it goes.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Tangy Tamarind Date Chutney
- 1/2 cup seedless tamarind paste ~ Or concentrate (4 ounces), see Notes below
- 1/2 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup jaggery ~ Or brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds ~ Or aniseseeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher
- 2 cups water ~ More as needed
- Gather your ingredients. If your tamarind paste has seeds, soak it in hot water, then pick out the seeds.
- In a saucepan over high heat add the tamarind, dates, jaggery or sugar, and two cups of water. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, or a low simmer, for 10 minutes. You are looking for the tamarind and dates to become very soft.
- While the tamarind mixture is cooking, in a small pan over medium-high heat toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds for a couple of minutes. Or until the spices are fragrant and the cumin seeds turn a shade darker. Stir frequently to ensure even browning and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Grind the spices in a spice grinder into a fine powder.
- Once the tamarind and dates are softened, stir in the ground spices, chili powder, and salt. Cook for another 2 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and process to a smooth paste in a blender. Add water if necessary.
- Press the mixture through a sieve. Taste for salt and chili powder and dilute with some water if you are wanting a thinner texture.
- The chutney will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and in the freezer for several months. You can always adjust the thickness with a bit more water after storing the chutney.