Imli and mircha chutney Fiji style is an almost essential side that every household must have in their pantry. It’s sweet and tangy and goes well with fritters such as bara and with vegetarian meals, especially dhal. Tamarind chutney made with large red chillies adds another layer of flavour into the traditional tamarind chutney that we all love. Because longer chillies have less heat, you’ll find that it absorbs the flavour of the tamarind and the sweetness of the sugars from the dates, sultana and sugar and it almost begins to taste like a sweet or candy.
My mother-in-law shared her imli and mircha chutney fiji style recipe with me and I find that the larger chillies make it sweeter and smaller chillies make it spicier. Depending on the flavour you want to add to your chutney, you can swap long chillies for medium ones. My mother-in-law was kind enough to make the video below to share her recipe with anyone that loves tamarind and chilli chutney (imli aur mircha ke chutney in Fiji hindi).
When making this chutney, make sure you balance the sugar levels by tasting the chutney at regular intervals. In Fiji, you will find the really dark tamarind is very sour while store bought ones originating from Asian countries has a sweeter flavour. We would always prefer using Fiji’s dark and flavourful tamarind but if you only have packaged tamarind available, this will do just fine. Just remember that if you use dates and sultana, it could make the chutney much sweeter (especially if the tamarind you’re using is also a sweet variety).
Using the rice flour is up to you as it is used to make the chutney thicker. We found that the chutney’s thickness increased when it cools down, so add more hot water (depending on your preference) and cook till it reaches a consistency that isn’t too thick or watery. You’ll know when it’s just right, and it’s all up to your taste and preference.
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
3 Tsp Mustard Seeds (Sarso)
2 Tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)
6 Sprigs Curry Leaves
100g Ginger – Crushed
1 Bulb Garlic – Crushed
1/2 KG Long Red Chillies (or chillies of your choice)
1 Cup Chopped Dates
1 Cup Chopped Sultana
3/4 Cup Sugar (adjust amount to taste)
3 Tsp Salt (more will be required to salt chillies)
1 Tbsp Rice Flour (optional)
- Soak tamarind in water and extract the pulp using your fingers and a large strainer. Discard seeds, pods and fibres from the mixture and set aside
- Split chillies from the middle and leave them joined together as a whole. Remove as much seeds as you can from the chillies. Salt the chillies lightly, making sure to get the salt inside the chillies. Set aside
- In a small frypan, separately dry fry 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp mustard seeds and 2 tsp fenugreek seeds. You need to dry fry them separately for even cooking. Cool seeds and blend into a fine powder (achar masala). Set aside
- In a pot heat oil on medium heat and add 1tsp mustard and cook till it crackles, pops and releases an aroma
- Strip the curry leaves from the stalks and chop them roughly. Add them to the pop and cook for a minute or till it becomes crispy
- Add ginger to the pot and cook till slightly brown and raw smell of garlic and ginger has gone
- Add the salted chillies into the pot and stir. After a minute, add 1 tsp salt, stir and cook for another 5 minutes
- Pour the tamarind pulp into the pot and stir ingredients together. Lower heat to avoid sticking and continue to stir frequently
- Add the sultana and dates to the pot and stir till they dissolve into the mixture
- Stir in the blended spices (achar masala) into the pot and mix thoroughly
- Add sugar, 2 tsp salt and rice flour and stir till they dissolve
- Simmer the ingredients on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the chutney cool down
- Pack the chutney into airtight containers or glass jars. Keeps for up to 3 months if refrigerated
- Serve as a side dish to vegetarian meals and snacks.