Tamarind is a very sour, tropical fruit that grows in little pods, and is used in cooking all around the world. It can be used for both savory dishes such as chutneys and pickling, and sweet dishes such as drinks and desserts. The most amazing fact about tamarind is that it is high in calcium - unlike most fruit. That is great for anyone who can't or doesn't want to eat dairy, and keeps getting asked where they get their calcium from :-). I love the taste of tamarind, especially tamarind dipping sauces, but I have had a hard time making anything with tamarind at home and getting the texture and taste I desire. I have tried the fruity pods, I've tried chunky pastes, and I have finally found what actually works: make sure you look for smooth tamarind paste without any added sugar or syrups. It should be liquid like very thick molasses. It's incredibly sour and potent, so a little will go a long way!
You can find tamarind in well stocked grocery stores in the ethnic food section or at any Asian food stores. I've also included a link for you below to order it on Amazon.
For this recipe I mix the chutney with already cooked lentils, but you can really use any bean of grain.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 main servings or 4 side servings:
For the tamarind chutney:
1 thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 Thai green chili (optional depending on how spicy you like it)
1 garlic clove
2 cups fresh cilantro (1 big bunch)
3/4 cups cashew nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp raw honey or other liquid sweetener of your choice
1/4 tsp sea salt
What else you need:
2 cups cooked brown lentils or other bean or grain of your choice
Put all the ingredients for the chutney in a food processor, and process until you get a slightly chunky chutney out of it. If you prefer it smooth, you can continue to process it further.
Mix the chutney with cooked lentils or your other bean or grain of choice.