Tamarind, Fig & Cumin Chutney from Indian-ish


Tamarind (imli in Hindi) is a tropical plant native to Africa but it also grows in India and many other tropical regions. The tree produces bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a sticky pulp that becomes sweet and sour as it ripens. Indian food features an array of sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavors. Tamarind chutney provides all of these sensations and it’s my personal favorite, so much so that I can’t eat an Indian meal without it. My mother would make so many jars of tamarind chutney you would think my brother and I were inhaling the stuff. It was basically our ketchup and we put it on everything, including hot dogs! My mom’s recipe although delicious is a complicated process of first soaking the tamarind and then cooking it down with sugar, ginger, garlic and spices. Sorry Mom, your tamarind chutney is still the OG but Priya Krishna’s Tamarind, Fig & Cumin Chutney recipe from her Indian-ish cookbook is way easier to make and it comes together in less than 20 minutes with only 4 ingredients! The Maggi brand tamarind sauce is available for purchase at any Indian grocery store, I found it at Patel Brothers on Devon. You can also buy it on Amazon. The fig jam is available at any specialty grocery store (look in the cheese section), I found it at Whole Foods. This chutney keeps for two weeks but something tells me it won’t last that long, you’re going to want to pour this on everything! It’s really good drizzled on pizzas, use it in place of bbq sauce or add it to your tacos with slices of red onions.

Also considering this a ringing endorsement for Priya Krishna’s book, Indian-ish. It’s a wonderful guide for anyone looking to break into cooking Indian food but also features recipes that aren’t watered-down. I can also relate to many of her stories of growing up with Indian parents trying to source ingredients in American grocery stores. My mother grew so frustrated she eventually opened her own Indian market!

Tamarind, Fig & Cumin Chutney (Imli ki Chutney)

  • 1/2 bottle Maggi brand tamarind sauce (1/2 of a 425 gram jar)

  • 2 tablespoons fig jam

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 cup water


Toast cumin powder in a dry sauce pan until fragrant (about 2 minutes, be careful not to burn it). Remove the cumin powder from pan and set it aside. Add to the same pan the tamarind sauce and water, mix until well combined. Stir in the fig jam and cook on low-medium heat until bubbly. Add the cumin and chili powder. Cool for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Alpana SinghComment