What is Tamarind Chutney?

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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Tamarind chutney is a type of chutney made from tamarind fruit. Chutney, a jelly-like substance, is usually used as a condiment for many meals. Tamarind chutney is used most frequently to add a sweet-and—sour element to a dish. It is often used in dishes like Moroccan stuffed chicken and other African, Indian, and Thai recipes.

Tamarind fruit is grown on a tree, originally native to Africa but now primarily cultivated in India, called a tamarind. Tamarind chutney uses tamarind paste as its primary ingredient. The paste can be made by hand, using the fruit, or it can be purchased in Indian or Thai specialty stores or gourmet food stores.

The chutney itself is often made fresh, though it can be found pre-made. Preparation of the chutney takes between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the recipe and experience of the cook. In addition to tamarind paste, sugar, spices, and water are usually used in the recipe.

Tamarind paste comes in tubs or in blocks. Most recipes will call for the block form, but there is no difference in taste between the two. When using the block form, the tamarind will have to be reconstituted into the paste using the water in the recipe. The Thai tamarind is usually easier to work with than the Indian version because it generally tends to be softer. If using tamarind which is already in paste form, the amount of water in the recipe should be reduced or eliminated.


All tamarind chutney recipes call for the paste, water, and sugar, and the simplest recipes will include only these ingredients. The sugar used is jaggery date sugar, which is made not only from sugar cane but also from dates. This sugar is often difficult to find in the United States, but is often carried by Indian specialty stores. If jaggery sugar is unavailable, dark brown sugar may be used.

Most tamarind chutney recipes include spices as well. Hot chili powder, usually Indian, is often called for. In addition to chili powder, cumin or garam masala, also Indian spices, may be included as well. Coriander and anise seeds are also included in some recipes.

In order to prepare the chutney, the brick tamarind must first be reconstituted into paste. Afterward, the sugar is added and dissolved into the mixture on low heat. The tamarind-sugar mixture is then transferred to a bowl. If coriander or anise seeds are used, they should be toasted prior to mixing. Toasting only takes a few minutes in a skillet, and the cook will know the seeds are toasted by the fragrance. Only after toasting are the seeds ground into a powder and mixed with the rest of the ingredients.


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Post 4

I don't always like sour flavors but after having a very nice oriental meal with tamarind chutney, I changed my mind. Tamarind is so interesting. It seems like our modern American diet mostly consists of salty,spicy and sweet flavors. We don't consume a lot of foods that are sour or bitter but I think that we have a need for these foods too. So a little bit of tamarind chutney works great as a condiment.

Post 3

@bluedolphin-- I agree with you that chutney made from fresh tamarind would be best. But most of us don't have access to it. Just to let you know, homemade chutney from tamarind paste does taste better. I also add dates, and lots of fresh spices so the flavor of the chutney is, for the lack of a better word, more explosive. There are so many different flavors I pick up from tamarind chutney that my taste buds are literally having a party.

So give it a try sometime.The great part about homemade tamarind chutney is that you can make it kind of thick and keep it in the fridge for a very long time. All you have to do when you want to use it is add a little bit of water and mix. It's practically ready to go this way.

Post 2

I love chutney, especially tamarind chutney. I have considered making it myself but I'm afraid that I'll get it wrong. So I just buy it ready-made from the Indian grocery. It's as good as any I've had and a jar lasts me for a while. So I'll probably continue to buy it ready-made. If I had access to fresh tamarind, I would probably make it myself. But I don't think that the ones made with store bough tamarind paste will be any better than the tamarind chutney from the store.

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