Chintakaya Thokku ~ Fresh Tamarind Chutney

Have you ever tasted a raw fresh tamarind? If you haven't, then you won't be able to understand the passion that attaches the senses to one who has tasted it and enjoyed it. I grew up in a town where tamarind trees were all over the place. We had many such trees in our village too. I am talking about when I was 8 years old. But those scenes are still fresh. And even much later I have had on many occasions enjoyed my share of fresh tamarind.

Then we had a never ending supply of these in our school campus. The fun comes out of eating these fresh tamarind is when you actually stand below a tree and pull down those fruits by yourself. Either by throwing stones or trying to pull it down with sticks. Whatever, the joy that comes out of your hard labour and when you pop it into your mouth. Ah!, actually you won't be able to do it right away, unless until you have one of those strong teeth, which doesn't shy out on biting a sour thing.

The sensation that hits you hard, on biting a fresh pulp, with water oozing out.and your teeth shrinking back because of the sourness. You can't but close your eyes in response to the reflex action that takes place. Yes, you won't know these unless you actually tasted it yourself.

If you haven't tasted one yet, then my advise to you will be is to,beg borrow or steal a fresh tamarind to experience this sensation.

Like all sour things, you will only hesitate for the first. After that how many goes in nobody knows. Even better than the fresh ones, those tamarinds that are naturally ripe in the tree. My God, that is even more exotic! Anyway I will talk about that in another post.

Today's post is all about fresh Tamarind and what you can make with it.

The country side in rural India is filled with many such beautiful scenes of lush Tamarind trees full with bounty. Whenever we go on long trips, we stop for a pick. Be it for the tender leaves or the fresh tamarind. Athamma makes both the Chinthaaku Pappu or Chinthakaya Thokku.

So during our recent trip, when we stopped for lunch at our usual spot, we found the tree with loads of tamarind hanging. We plucked some for the tokku.

Chintakaya Thokku ~ Fresh Tamarind Chutney

Fresh Tamarind - 1 cup (after pitting)
Salt to taste 
Fenugreek / Methi - 10 seeds

For Spice powder

Bengal gram/ Channa dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Methi Seeds - 5 7- seeds
Sesame Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red Chili dry - 12 nos 

For Seasoning

Curry leaves - 5 
Red chili - 2 -3 
Turmeric a pinch
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 3 - 4 tsp

Method to prepare:

Since we are using fresh tamarind, which is very juicy and has seeds that won't come out very easily, you got to mash them well to remove the seeds. This is usually done using the mortal and pestle. You can continue getting a smooth consistency by grinding it and also adding the methi seeds along with salt.
Once the seeds are removed, you can further grind it smooth in a mixer or food processor. Then the tamarind is stored along with the ground methi and salt for couple of days. Normally during the day, it is just left to dry in the shade. 

When it is dried for couple days, you can season it and store it.

Grind the spices listed in the spice mix and keep it aside. This spices can be dry roasted and powdered.

Heat a pan with oil, pop the mustard, then add curry leaves along with the red chillies. Saute well. Then add the turmeric powder and then the ground spice mix.

When you have sauteed for 5 mins, add the ground fresh tamarind chutney. Saute again for 5 mins. Adjust spice and salt. Spice can be adjusted by adding Red chili powder. But this can be done before serving too.

This chutney is normally stored for many months. It takes various forms, mostly interesting one being Chintakaaya Pulihora. You can also store the extracted tamarind that is ground with just salt and methi as such. Use it in various forms. Athamma gave me rice mixed with just that Fresh Tamarind with salt and methi, it was too delicious to put in words. So you can store it just that way too, and season the chutney when you want to use it.

Notes: Salt has to be mixed and mashed, only then the tamarind extract gets that typical taste. Adjust the spice accordingly. If you are using Green chilis, you need to add them while grinding in the mixer.

Have a great week ahead!

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