Monday, September 03, 2007

Tamarind-Date Chutney

I love to cook. This blog was intended to be a balanced portrayal of my life: some food, some knitting, some adorable pets, some everything else. Well, that didn't last long. My pets, while adorable, don't really enjoy being photographed. (And SOMC and SOMM aside, one can really only look at so many pet pics. I don't care how cute they are.) My knitted FOs are few and far between, and my "everything else" is relatively uninteresting. So, by default, a food blog it is. It's also a way for me to keep track of things that I've made -- I modify recipes like crazy, and every once in a while I'll hit on something that I'd like to make again. (And again and again and again...I'm kind of a 3-year-old like that.)

I also love to volunteer. I'm not exactly a social butterfly...I'll give myself partial credit and say that I'm a social caterpillar. So it's nice -- at least for me -- to have instant common ground when I'm meeting new people. (There are a zillion benefits to volunteering...but I do have a point that I'm trying to reach eventually. And I can only digress so far before it's considered a new topic.) One of the first things that I did when I moved here was to look for volunteer opportunities, and I ended up at Campus Kitchens. Amazing organization -- I really want to get one started at OSU when I head back in the spring -- and amazing volunteers.

(Gasp! It's my point!) I worked with Nupur all summer. She's a really inspiring person and a brilliant cook, and I was really sad when we compared schedules and found out that we wouldn't be cooking on the same shift anymore. But we kept in touch by email, and she invited me over for dinner and cooking lessons this weekend. I had a ton of fun and I learned a lot about Indian cooking.

Nupur's version of this chutney has only 3 ingredients: dates, tamarind, and jaggery. This recipe adds a little salt and cayenne pepper. I -- par usual -- added a bunch of stuff. (It's like a compulsion...I can't ever make a recipe without messing with it.) Mine turned out so well that I just want to eat it with a spoon. No exact measurements...m'bad.

Dates (I used "cooking dates" -- basically a cake of dates that have been pureed and mixed with a little oil.)
Tamarind (Apparently they sell tamarind juice. Or tamarind concentrate. I meant to get that and accidentally got the kind that still had all of the pulp and seeds left in.)
Jaggery (Unrefined sugar -- it comes in a giant awe-inspiring block.)
Powdered Ginger
Cayenne Pepper

Place dates in a small saucepan with some water. (I used about -- I'm guessing here -- 1/3 cup dates and 2/3 cup water.) Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, to dissolve the dates. Meanwhile, take a chunk of tamarind, place it in a bowl with water, and microwave for 1 minute. (I used about 1/4 cup tamarind.) Mash the tamarind as best you can -- there will still be nasty-looking chunks of pulp and seeds. Place a small strainer over the saucepan with the dates, and pour the tamarind mixture into the saucepan, pressing down on the pulp to extract as much liquid as possible. Break off a piece of jaggery (between 1 and 2 T sized) and add to the date-tamarind mixture. Sprinkle in a small amount of salt and each of the other spices. Simmer over very low heat for 3 minutes. Cool, and serve with samosas, pakoras, yogurt, or any other dish of your choice. (Or eat with a spoon.)


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