by Shivani Khanna
Tamarind or Tamarindus indica is indigenous to tropical Africa but has been cultivated for so long on the Indian subcontinent that it is also considered to be indigenous to India. Today, India is the largest producer of tamarind and its pulp is made into a variety of products.
Tamarind is one of the most sought after ingredients in Indian cooking and most regional cuisines use it in a variety of ways. It is an important ingredient in chutneys, curries and sauces. It is also used to make sweet and sour confectionery, loved by most Indians, specially in the villages.
First the tamarind pulp is washed in clean water so as to remove all the dirt and dust. It is then soaked in drinking water for upto four hours or even overnight. The soaked pulp is then mashed by hand in the soaking water itself. After that, the liquid is strained through a fine mesh strainer collecting the liquid and all the smooth pulp too.The strained liquid, along with the sugar is boiled till thick.Care must be taken to use non reactive vessels as the tamarind is a sour agent. Once off the stove the salt and chilli powder is added.
The prepared Imli Chutney can be cooled and stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a long time. For the purpose of the fast, we add some fruits like banana and pomegranate seeds to add flavour and texture.
250 gms dried tamarind
450 gms sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1. Wash the tamarind pulp in clean water so as to remove all the dirt and dust.
2. Soak the tamarind in drinking water just enough to cover it, for upto four hours or even overnight.
3. Mash the soaked tamarind pulp by hand in the soaking water itself.
4. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer collecting the liquid and all the smooth pulp collected on the under side of the mesh too.
5. In a non reactive vessel, boil the strained liquid, along with the sugar till semi thick or till the liquid falls in a continuous stream from the spoon when lifted. It becomes thicker on cooling. More sugar can be added to taste as the tamarind pulp will differ in sourness from place to place.
6. Once off the stove, add the salt and chilli powder to taste.
7. The Imli Chutney should be sweet and sour in taste with a hint of saltiness and chilli.
8. Once cooled, store the chutney in a clean bottle in the refrigerator where it will stay for many months without spoiling.