Friday, 18 March 2011

Tamarind Pickle

Or, more familiarly, tetuler achaar. Now, there are, of course, several kinds of tetuler achaar, classifiable under different heads. The two commonest classifications are: gola tetuler achaar, and, well, not gola-tetuler achaar. In the former, de-seeded tamarinds are soaked in slightly warm water till they dissolve to a large extent, and make a thick, paste-like, semi-liquid thingy. This is then strained to remove the tamarind skins, and the gooey tamarind water is cooked or flavoured further. The latter, first, doesn't bother to de-seed the tamarind, and second, doesn't bother to strain the mixture to remove the tamarind skins.

I think you can tell which my favourite method is.

Other classificatory heads are based on flavours: jhaal (hot), spiced-with-mustard, tok-tok (tangy), mishti (sweet), and innumeral combinations of these. This recipe here is a mix of sweet and tangy, with a slight hint of spice. It's incredibly easy to take, and very, very easy on the tastebuds ;-)

Akhi gur, jaggery made from sugarcane juice -- 250 gms.
Tamarind, whole -- 100-125 gms.
Whole cumin -- a fistful.
Sugar, jus in case.

First, wash the tamarind under a running tap and then soak them in a cup and a half of water. After a while, when the tamarind has soaked in a little water, squelch and mash it with your hand so that the tamarind in water now becomes a thick, semi-liquid tamarind paste.

Pour the jaggery in a deep saucepan or wok or skillet. Let it heat slowly. It will release a little oil that will grease the pan or wok. When the jaggery slowly turns liquidy, pour two cups of water, stir the pot, and bring to a boil. Keep boiling for three or four minutes (add more water if needed).

Heated jaggery.

Add a dash of salt, and the tamarind paste. Reduce the flame. Stir for a minute, making sure the tamarind paste dissolves, and doesn't lie at the bottom of the pan to char. Your work is done. Let it cook on low for as long as it takes for the pickle to reach your preferred consistency.

Remember, though: the pickle is all flowy and liquidy because it is hot. It will cool and congeal when you're done with it. So don't let it get too thick, or it'll end up in lumps when cold. Keept it, shall we say, at the consistency of bottled honey.

 While the pickle reduces, toast the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes on low. Grind them. This is the simplest form of bhaja guro moshla, or 'toasted and ground spice'. After you've taken the pickle off the flame, poured it out and let it cool for about twenty minutes, sprinkle two teaspoons of the spice on top, and fold it in. This will add that little kick that everyone will notice, but be hard-pressed to identify. Lovely, isn't it? ;-)


Su DChaudhuri said...

the consistency of bottled honey will congeal further to the consistency of jam. the skin of the tamarind will remain chewy, and edible to some extent. spit out the seeds though.

and now describe the gola tetuler achar, rimi. :)

Rimi said...

Aeki recipe, khali extra khete-khute skin and seeds ber kore fela. Oto possaye na mairi.

Dea-chan said...

hmm... now is this the stuff that i like at indian restaurants? they often serve three sauces with appetizers -- tamarind, mint, and spicy onion I think.

i've tried buying some, but it just tastes like ass.

ranja said...

Wow, I'm such a fan!

Rimi said...

D-C -- honey, don't buy that stuff! It's awful. Just for you, I think, I'll get more pickle recipes out of my greataunt and post here. For now, do with the pickle. I don't know if you get jaggery in Indian/Bangladeshi shops (you can ask at that shop on Mass Ave, the one right opposite the street T's place used to be?) but you might try substituting sugar and let me know how it went.

Ranja -- big fan of your fannishness, sweetie :-)