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Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind Chutney is a sweet and sour Indian dipping sauce. It pairs brilliantly with many Indian appetizers and snacks like Chicken Pakora, Paneer Pakora, and Samosas and Air Fryer Samosas. It is also used as an ingredient in many chaat recipes, so it’s a staple in many Indian kitchens.

low angle shot of a bowl of tamarind chutney with a spoon and samosas in the background.

You’ll see this sweet-tangy chutney on the table at most Indian restaurants, where it might be called Imli Chutney. It’s simply irresistible.

This Tamarind Imli Chutney is made with dates rather than just tamarind. I love the deep, round sweetness the dates add to the mix.

Why you’ll love this tangy tamarind chutney

Tamarind Chutney balances sweet and tangy flavors. It’s a welcome counterpoint to many rich or spicy foods.

Tart and sweet Tamarind Chutney is the perfect dipping sauce for samosas or air fried samosas filled with a spicy potato and pea filling. It also goes great with crispy deep fried Chicken Pakora or Paneer Pakora.

There’s sweetness from the dates and sugar, a hit of spice from a dash of ground chile, and depth of flavor that comes from adding cumin and ginger. The tamarind gives it earthy sweet and tangy flavors.

You can store Tamarind Chutney Imli in the refrigerator for weeks—I’ve kept it for up to 6 weeks and it’s still perfectly fine.

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make tamarind chutney.

Ingredients you need

The ingredient list for Tamarind Chutney recipe is short, but each ingredient plays a key role. Here’s what you need:

  • Dates: You can use deglet noor dates or medjool dates, just be sure they are pitted.
  • Tamarind: You can buy seedless tamarind pulp in Asian markets or online. The label says seedless, but be aware that there are bound to be a few seeds in it anyway. After soaking and before adding the other ingredients, break the pulp up with your hands and check for seeds. You can also substitute tamarind concentrate with water added or tamarind paste. Add either tamarind concentrate or ready made tamarind paste to the dates after soaking the dates (use half as much water to soak the dates).
  • Jaggery: Jaggery is unrefined sugar that is used frequently in Indian cooking. You can buy jagger or jaggery powder in Indian grocery stores or online, or you can substitute brown sugar. Using brown sugar will make more of a sweet tamarind chutney.
  • Spices: I use salt, ground cumin or roasted cumin powder (or use whole cumin seeds roasted briefly in a skillet and ground to a powder in a spice grinder), ground ginger or ginger powder, and ground Kashmiri chili. You can substitute cayenne pepper for the Kashmiri red chili powder if you like.

How do you make tamarind chutney

This Tamarind Chutney recipe is very easy to make. Here’s how:

  1. Soak the tamarind and dates in hot water. Once it is very soft, use your hands to break up the pulp and remove and seeds. I soak them for about 2 hours. If you prefer, you can quick soak them in the Instant Pot: Put a cup of water in the pot along with the rack. Put the tamarind, dates, and soaking water in a heat-safe bowl and pressure cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Process the tamarind, dates, soaking, sugar, and spices together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, using the back of a spoon to press the liquid through. Discard the solids.
  4. Serve the tamarind chutney at room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
Overhead shot of a package of seedless tamarind.

How to serve it

I like to serve Tamarind Chutney—along with Cucumber Raita, Cilantro Mint Chutney, and Garlic Chutney—as a dipping sauce with Indian appetizers and snacks like Samosas, Air Fryer Samosas, Chicken Pakoras, and Paneer Pakoras.

You can also serve it with curries, like Palak Paneer or Instant Pot Chicken Korma, and homemade naan or other Indian breads.

Tamarind Chutney is also used as an ingredient in many chaat recipes like samosa chaat or pani puri.

overhead shot of a bowl of tamarind date chutney with samosas and cilantro mint chutney.

 More Indian recipes you’ll love

If you love Indian food and want more recipes, try Dal SoupKachumber SaladInstant Pot Chicken BiryaniShrimp BiryaniChicken 65, and Kerala Fish Curry.

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Tamarind Chutney

low angle, closeup shot of a bowl of tamarind chutney.

Tamarind Chutney is a sweet and tangy Indian dipping sauce. It's the perfect dipping sauce for Chicken Pakora, Paneer Pakora, and Samosas and Air Fried Samosas. It is also used as an ingredient in many chaat recipes, so it’s a staple in many Indian kitchens.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  •  ½ cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup seedless tamarind pulp
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin or roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger or dry ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder

Instructions

  1. Put the tamarind and dates in a heat-safe bowl and pour boiling water over it to cover (you’ll need about 2 cups boiling water). Let stand for about 2 hours to soften the tamarind.
  2. Remove any seeds or hard bits from the tamarind and then transfer it to a blender or food processor, along with the soaking liquid. Add the sugar, salt, cumin, ginger, and chili powder and process until smooth.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve, using the back of a spoon to press the liquid through.
  4. Serve at room temperature and store in the refrigerator.

Notes

1. You can substitute tamarind paste or tamarind concentrate mixed with water for the seedless tamarind if you like.

2. You can substitute brown sugar for jaggery.

3. You can substitute cayenne pepper for Kashmiri chili powder.

4. You can store the chutney in the refrigerator, in a lidded glass jar, for up to 6 weeks.

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By on October 11th, 2022

ABOUT ROBIN DONOVAN

Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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