Fresh-Tamarind, Imli Chutney-The Journey of a Tamarind freshly picked from the tree to your plate n how it can make our fries come to life!
A tamarind tree, standing tall, un-ripened tamarinds are hanging from the tree. Have you ever seen that? Some of you might have, some of you might not have recognized it while you passed by a tamarind tree. Fresh tamarind is elongated, a bit flat cylindrical in shape like our fingers; outside the layer is light brown, inside it looks fresh light green with the seeds arranged carefully which are white inside. Years ago while I was walking past a tree I casually looked at it and saw some brown long slender fruits hanging among the light green airy leaves, it took me some moments to realize that I was looking at a full grown tamarind tree bearing fruits! Before this I have never looked at a tamarind tree-consciously, so looking at that site brought a new feeling and that frame from that time got printed in my memory. Years later today when I am writing about this in the blog I realize it stayed with me n I can access it. It is a good feeling.
Unlike mature tamarind which is dark brown in color, young tamarind is light green inside and both has almost the same amount of tang, perhaps the fresh one is a bit more tangy but the flavor is where you can taste the difference. I don’t know how will I describe the flavor that comes into being when I made this fresh tamarind chutney, I almost don’t have a reference taste to relate it to, at max it slightly reminds me of lemon lozenges but those lemon lozenges didn't taste like lemon either, so it doesn't take us anywhere I guess. Its fresh, something aromatic about it, acidic in nature, the pulp is pale light green in color and when I simmer it with sugar syrup for some amount of time it turned amber golden, what a beautiful color it is to look at.
The above pic is taken from Wikipedia.
The scientific name of tamarind is Tamarindus Indica, Tamarind is hugely popular across the cultures around the globe, and the tree is probably indigenous to tropical Africa, however it has been cultivated in the Indian sub-continent for such a long time that it is also considered indigenous. We can find the love affair of tamarind in the cuisines of the south-east Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Tropical Africa, Northern Australia, The middle-east Asia, China, Taiwan, South-America particularly Mexico. It is used extensively in both sweet n savory dishes.
This sweet n sour chutney is very simple to make, first I boil the young tamarind fruits to soften n extract the green pulp, then I simmer them in sugar syrup with fennel seeds and dried mango cakes known as “Aam-Satto”or “Aam-papad”. So in the flavorful tang of the tamarind and the sweetness from the sugar we have the background flavors of fennel seeds n dried mango cakes and a touch of dried roasted red chili, for the flavor n not for the heat.
You know what! This is such a versatile chutney, I serve it with samosas, fried dumplings, chicken puffs/vegetable puffs, sometimes I add it when I am making a snacks with puffed rice with vegetable like onion n tomato n spices, sometimes I eat it with a little white rice, they are great with fried papads n flat breads like paranthas n roti. Eat it the way you like it, use it in Bhelpuris or Bombay Mix, and use it in Papdi-chaat or salads. Most importantly have fun eating it.
So once you have found yourself young tree-picked tamarinds in your local market or supermarket, give them a try and you will be delighted. Since they are quite sour we have to balance them with sugar or salt or both and any flavors or spices that go with it.
Now it’s time for the recipe.
Now it is time to lick the chutney. Bon Appetit.