Dates and Tamarind Chutney

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Dates and tamarind combine well into a tango of flavours. And when we add the sweet health quotient of jaggery and the roasted aromas of select spices, then we get the most perfect ‘Dates and Tamarind Chutney’ that you will ever find on Earth. Guaranteed!

An open bottle of dates and tamarind chutney is shown next to a few dates, some jaggery and tamarind
A sweet and sour, thick and flavour-rich chutney you can keep for months

And it has no chemical additives. Only pure ingredients. Additionally, the best of health comes with it. Dates, jaggery and tamarind each have properties uniquely beneficial for us. I’m not even starting on the digestive properties of the spices! What more can we ask for from a 20-minute dish?!

I always keep a jar of this in the fridge. It lasts for several weeks because of the tamarind. Just be sure to use a dry spoon to handle the paste.

Steps to Making the Dates and Tamarind Chutney

Considering this chutney will serve you faithfully for months, it is a miracle that it takes just 20 minutes after the soaking stage.

Soaking

This recipe calls for soaking the dates and tamarind. I also soak the jaggery. A 2-3 hour soaking should do the trick. This also helps as it drastically reduces the cooking time. Soak 1/2 cup tamarind in 3/4 cup of water.

In another vessel, soak 12 dates (remove seeds) and 1/2 cup of jaggery in 3/4 cup of water. In case you do not get jaggery, you can use brown sugar at the cooking stage, but the taste will not be the same.

Dates and tamarind are soaking in separate containers for the chutney
Soak the ingredients for a minimum of two hours

Overnight soaking is fine, but use plastic or glass boxes for the tamarind if so. This is because tamarind is quite corrosive and if you do not get time in the morning, it may cause the metal to leach into the fluid. Put the boxes in the fridge and continue the chutney when you get time.

Grinding and Extraction of the Pulp

When the pulp is soft, use a spoon to press the soaked tamarind through a sieve. Soon, you will see a black mass left on the sieve. Now add up to a cup of water more, in 3 stages, pressing down the pulp with a spoon. This will extract the flavour of the tamarind without wasting any of it.

In the blender, grind the dates and jaggery to a fine puree.

Dates mixture is blended while tamarind mixture is passed through a sieve
Process the soaked solutions

Cooking the Pulp

Mix the jaggery and the tamarind and cook on medium heat, stirring intermittently, for 10 minutes. Soon the mixture will thicken and reduce in volume.

Roasting and Grinding the Spices

While the syrup is cooking , roast the whole spices in a small thick container to prevent burning. Always use gently heat with spices, because you just want to release the flavours.

When aromatic and slightly darker, remove from heat, cool slightly. Grind to a fine powder. Now, add black salt crystals.

Whole spices in a hot pan
Whole spices are to be roasted gently

Adding the Spices to the Dates Mixture

Dump the ground spices and black salt into the dates mixture. Stir well. Heat for a few minutes more. Take it off the flame.

The ground roasted spices are added to cooked mixture of dates and tamarind
The ground roasted spices are added to cooked mixture

Taste the chutney. It is yummy already😋, but add more jaggery or salt in case you need it. Another tip is to add a few date chunks at this point, if you want to have the bits visible.

Use a spoonful of this chutney instead of chaat masala, or when the recipe calls for tamarind. It can be used in the Green Papaya or Som Tum Salad for instance. Or in the Sweet and Sour Pumpkin recipe.

Bottle it in a clean, dry glass or plastic jar. Store it in the fridge. It will not spoil for 3 months if you use it carefully.

Dates and Tamarind Chutney

Recipe by Sheetal RabindranCourse: SidesCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

3

hours 
Cooking time

15

minutes

This dates and tamarind chutney goes with everything! Cooked with jaggery and a mixture of roasted spices, it is a game-changer for your snacks and can be added to many foods for a twist.

Ingredients

  • 12 Dates/khajoor, deseeded

  • 1/2 cup jaggery/gud

  • 1/2 cup tamarind/imli

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds/jeera

  • 1 tsp aniseed/saunf

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds/sabut dhaniya

  • 1 tsp peppercorns/kali mirch

  • 1 red chilli/lal mirch

  • 1 tsp black salt/kala namak

Directions

  • Soak tamarind in 3/4 cup of water for 3 hours.
  • Soak the dates and jaggery in 3/4 cup of water for 3 hours.
  • Pass the tamarind through a sieve, using a spoon, till all the flavour and tartness has been extracted. To the pulp on the sieve, add a cup of water in 3 stages to repeat. Discard the pulp on the sieve.
  • Blend the dates and the jaggery in a food processor.
  • Cook the tamarind and the dates mixture on low to medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • Roast the dry spices on low heat. Cool and grind it.
  • Add the ground spices and black salt to the cooking mixture. Mix well.
  • Taste and adjust to your preference by adding some jaggery or black salt.
  • Cool and pour into clean, dry glass jars. Store in the fridge.

Notes

  • The chutney will keep well in the fridge for 3 months. Use a dry spoon to take the chutney out.
  • It is better to make the chutney thick, so it occupies less space and does not spoil. If you need the chutney to be thinner, just add warm water just before you serve it.
  • You can add ground dry ginger powder to the cooked mixture if you wish.
 

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