When my Mom was visiting back in April, tamarind chutney was on my own personal short list to cover with her. This sweet and sour brown sauce is one of my favorites. You may have been served this condiment at an Indian restaurant but let me assure you that the homemade version is far superior in my opinion. The sauce served at dining establishments usually includes dates and I often find it way too sweet for my palate. My version, below, has the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. And you control the sugar level so you can totally customize it to your taste.
I love this stuff with samosas, use it to make the puffed rice street food called bhel puri, and add it to pickled onions to take them over the top. I also have a sneaky suspicion that this sauce would be absolutely divine on chicken wings – but I need to try that before I firmly recommend it.
Making it will require you to purchase a brick of tamarind at your local Indian market or online. But the good news there is first of all, tamarind is inexpensive and the brick should run you less than $3. Second, one 7oz brick of tamarind yields quite a bit of chutney – think 3-4 cups so you will have much to show for your labor. The chutney freezes beautifully and also lasts in the fridge for several weeks so don’t worry if you aren’t able to use it all quickly.
The process of making the chutney is not hard but it does take a few hours mainly because after you microwave the tamarind brick with some water, you need to let that mixture cool before you can work with it. Then you pick out any seeds with your hands, do a little blending, transfer the mixture to the stove top and add a handful of ingredients and boom, you have chutney. Whenever I serve this to folks for the first time they are always wowed by the depth of flavor. I remember bringing it to a potluck a few years ago and the leftover sauce was whisked away by my host with her muttering under her breath that she was going to try it with her cereal the next morning. Yep, it’s that good.