Chicken Tikka Chaat (see related recipe) calls for only 2 tablespoons of this sweet-tart sauce, but you'll like having extra chutney on hand. Use it to glaze roasted pork or chicken, add it to your favorite spaghetti sauce, spoon it on top of coconut rice or serve it with warm dosas.
Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that comes in chunks. Black salt (kala namak) is strong-smelling and closer in color to purple, with a slightly metallic taste. Roasted cumin powder has a more pronounced aroma and flavor than regular ground cumin. Those ingredients, plus blocks of dried tamarind (pods), are available at Indian markets.
Make Ahead: The chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several months.
Servings: 2 - 2.3 cups
- 1 pound dried block tamarind (see headnote)
- 8 ounces pitted dates, coarsely chopped
- 3-inch piece (1 ounce) peeled ginger root, coarsely chopped (3 heaping tablespoons)
- Cloves from 1 small head garlic, coarsely chopped (4 heaping tablespoons)
- Two 2-inch chunks jaggery, finely chopped (see headnote)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5 small dried red chile peppers, stemmed, seeded if desired, then finely chopped
- 4 bay leaves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder (see headnote)
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black salt (see headnote)
Combine the tamarind, dates, ginger, garlic, jaggery, granulated sugar, dried red chili peppers, bay leaves and fennel seeds in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the dates and tamarind have softened.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain the mixture, using a flexible spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
Add the roasted cumin powder, red chili powder, black salt and salt to taste; mix well.
Cool, then use right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to several months.
From chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika in downtown Washington.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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