Sweet and sour tamarind chutney made with tamarind, jaggery, and spices is a popular chutney used widely in Indian chaat or as an accompaniment with snacks like samosa or pakora.
This recipe can be easily made in about 30 minutes with basic Indian pantry staples.
Make a big batch and store it in the fridge for up to weeks!
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I make this tamarind chutney often along with this green chutney (cilantro mint chutney) and store it in the fridge to whip up some chaat in the evening, or as an accompaniment with snacks like dhokla, bajji/bajiya, puffs, pakora, samosa. So much better than chemicals and preservative-loaded store-bought ketchup, right?
When you have these two chutneys ready, it is a breeze to make chaat items such as Bhel Puri, Dahi Puri, Papdi Chaat, Sev Puri, etc.,
Since this tamarind chutney is sweet in taste, it is perfect for kids and also balances the heat from the green chutney as they are mostly used together. It can also be used to make pani for Pani Puri and optionally in Bangalore-style Masala Puri before serving.
What is Tamarind Chutney
Chutney is a condiment used in Indian cuisine served with various dishes. There are numerous varieties of chutneys, a lot of them being the spicy ones and some sweet and sour varieties like this tamarind chutney.
Chutneys can be made with vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, lentils, and also nuts. The ingredients are either blended together or crushed together or boiled and cooked into a thick consistency.
This tamarind chutney is made with tamarind, jaggery, and spice powders like roasted cumin powder, chaat masala, black salt, ginger powder, and a pinch of red chili powder to balance the flavors.
The chutney has a very prominent tangy-sweet flavor that can tickle your taste buds. Like they say in Hindi, it is absolutely chatpata and just unstoppable!
You can make this chutney quite thick or of a slightly thin pouring (but not too runny) consistency. I prefer the latter since it is easier to pour over.
Also, the chutney gets thicker on refrigerating. So, the advantage of making it a little thin is that you need not have to dilute it later while using it. Of course, the consistency can be adjusted as per your liking, I have explained how to do this in detail below.
This chutney is also known as Imli ki chutney, khatta meetha chutney, sweet tamarind chutney, or simply sweet chutney.
You will need dried tamarind. You can use the one with seeds or seedless. If you use the former, you will have to remove the seeds before using the tamarind.
The tamarind should be soaked in hot water to extract its juice well.
In case you want to use the tamarind pulp directly, you will have to dilute it.
If you are using dried tamarind powder, mix it in water before using it in the chutney.
The sweetener used in this is jaggery. For the uninitiated, Jaggery is made by extracting the juice from sugarcane which is then boiled until thick and set in molds. The jaggery cubes are easily available at your local stores or at Indian stores if you live outside India.
I prefer using organic unrefined jaggery, you can use it as per your choice.
I have used the jaggery cubes by chopping them fairly. You can, however, use jaggery powder directly.
The other alternative is white sugar or coconut sugar. I have never used either of these in this chutney, but they should definitely work. The taste would however differ.
Just the sweet and sour taste from jaggery and tamarind, respectively will not work well. We need to add some spices that elevate the flavor of this chutney.
You will need the following spice powders. I would not recommend skipping any of them, maybe the red chili powder can be an exemption.
Roasted Cumin Powder-
Make sure to use roasted cumin powder only. Since the cumin seeds would have been roasted before grinding, the flavor of this would be too good. You can make this at home or use store-bought powder.
Chaat Masala has a distinctive flavor in itself due to the combination of spices used to make it, and it adds that extra zing to the chutney. I always use this chaat masala.
Indian Black Salt/ Kala Namak–
This tastes very different from the regular table salt and is widely used and a must in many Indian recipes.
It has kind of a tangy flavor and the powder form that we will be using is usually not black but of a pinkish hue. The rock salt of this would however be black in color, and hence the name.
The ginger powder adds in the kick and slight heat as well, although we will be using this in a small quantity only.
In case it is not available, you can skip this.
Red Chili Powder-
Preferably Kashmiri red chili powder is to be used. It will add in a bit of reddish hue with less heat.
It will not make the chutney spicy since only a small pinch will be used.
However, it is not compulsory, especially if you have used ginger powder since it would also add in some heat.
Although black salt would be used, I prefer adding table salt as well as it will round off all the flavors.
In case you are making this chutney during fasting, you can skip table salt and use only black salt.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is this chutney Vegan and Gluten-free?
Yes, it is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
2. How long does this chutney stay good?
It stays good for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
3. Can it be frozen?
Yes, definitely. Freezing helps the chutney stay good for a really long time.
In this case, I would highly recommend freezing it in ice trays so that you can take out only as many cubes as you need.
You can thaw the cubes for a few hours or transfer them to a heated pan and let them melt before using.
4. How to alter the consistency as per my liking?
To make it thick:
Do not use too much water to extract the tamarind juice. I have used 3.5 cups in this recipe, you can use around 2.5 to 3 cups. Make sure you extract the juice well though.
Also, simmer it longer (up to 25 minutes at least) in case it has not reached the desired consistency. But remember, the chutney gets much thicker on cooling down.
The best way to check this while simmering is by pouring the chutney with a spoon. It should not pour down easily, but should slowly slide down sticking to the spoon a bit. This is the right stage to take it off the heat.
To make it of thin pouring consistency:
Use 3.5 to 4 cups of water in total to extract the juice. Simmer the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. It will be runny at this stage but the flavors would have infused. Take it off the heat.
In case the chutney turned out too thick on refrigeration (if you used lesser water and simmered it for long), and you want to thin it down, simply mix in some water.
Alternatively, you can heat the mixture again for 2 to 3 minutes just so that the water gets mixed in uniformly and the flavor is distributed right.
Serve this chutney as an accompaniment with samosa, pakora, bajji/bajiya, kachori.
Additionally, they can be served with paratha, chapati, puri, as a sandwich spread, dhokla, etc.,
You can also use it as a salad dressing for some unique flavors in your salad which will definitely make it so much Indian and take it to another level with its flavor profile. This chickpea avocado salad recipe would work great for this, just skip the honey mentioned in the recipe.
How to make Tamarind Sweet Chutney: Step by Step Pictures
Note: 1 cup = 250 ml
Measure and add in 3/4 cup (around 100 g) tightly packed tamarind into a large bowl.
Pour in 2 cups of hot water and let the tamarind soak well for 15 minutes until soft.
Now using your hand squeeze the tamarind so that its juice is released well.
Alternatively, transfer the soaked tamarind along with water into a blender jar and blend the mixture to a fine paste.
Strain the tamarind pulp or the blended paste into a pan using a fine mesh strainer to extract only the juice.
Repeat the process by adding 1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water to the remaining tamarind pulp and extract the juice. If you think you can extract more, add in 1/2 a cup of water more and repeat until only the fiber remains. I did this twice after the first extraction, used about 3.5 cups water in total.
Chop around 200 g jaggery cubes fairly. You will need around 1.25 cups of jaggery pieces. If you are using jaggery powder, you can use 1 to 1.25 cups of it directly.
To the pan in which you have extracted the tamarind juice, transfer the jaggery and place this pan on heat.
Stir and let the jaggery melt.
Then add in the spice powders- 1 tsp roasted cumin powder, 1.25 tsp chaat masala, 3/4 tsp black salt/Kala namak, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, 1/4 tsp red chili powder, 1/4 tsp table salt. Stir them all well.
Boil this mixture really well for 15 to 20 minutes until it has turned slightly thick and the quantity has reduced.
I switched it off at the stage where it was neither too runny nor too thick. Since it cools down on refrigerating, this stage was perfect for me.
If you like it thicker, simmer it for 5 to 10 more minutes.
Once it has cooled down completely, transfer it to an air-tight container and refrigerate.
Note: The color of the chutney can slightly alter based on the red chili powder you use. I did use a little more Kashmiri chili powder than mentioned in this recipe (it wasn’t required anyway), and hence the chutney got a bit of a reddish tinge.
1. If you are using tamarind pulp directly, dilute it with water and use it. You will need 3 to 3.5 cups of thin tamarind pulp in total, which can be 1 cup of tamarind concentrate plus 2 cups water for example, or more or less. I have not used it so I am not exactly sure about the measurements.
2. In case you are unsure about the purity of the jaggery, melt it in hot water and strain the mixture to get rid of the impurities. Pour this into the tamarind extract.
3. I could make nearly 2.5 cups of tamarind chutney. The quantity can differ slightly based on how thick you have made it.
4. I like this chutney quite sweet so this is the measure of unrefined jaggery I prefer using. Please adjust it as per your liking and based on the type of jaggery you use.
1. With Dates
You can use seedless dates along with jaggery, or remove the seeds and use them. Fairly chop the soft dates and boil this along with the other ingredients. In case the dates are of the hard variety, soak them in hot water and then use.
They might still be chunky in the chutney, so once the chutney is boiled well and cooled down, blend it in a blender to make it fine.
Remember to reduce the quantity of jaggery accordingly in this case since dates will be quite sweet themselves.
2. Addition of whole cumin seeds and fennel seeds
If you want to add these, fry them in the pan in a tsp of oil and let them sizzle. Then add the tamarind juice and the other ingredients following the procedure mentioned.
3. Addition of raisins and banana slices
A lot of people also make this with these additions. You can add them in too if you like. If using banana, slice them and add in.
More Recipes to Try
I hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed preparing it and writing it down for you all. 🙂
If you have any questions about the recipe, kindly post them below under comments or send me an email using the contact form.
I would love to see your recipe recreations. 🙂