Imli ki Chutney – Sweet Tamarind Chutney

a wooden spoon taking out a spoonful of imli ki chutney in a labelled jar

Khatti meethi Imli Ki Chutney, sounds like a long name, but it takes 20 mins to make and is paired with sooooo many Indian/ Pakistani snacks (pakoras, chats) and mains! The literal translation of the name is going to be tangy sweet Tamarind Chutney. I swear! this is the best!

‘Imli’ or Tamarind is a super sour flavoring ingredient. This recipe uses a LOT of it and balances that sourness out with some heat from spices and sweetness from dates (or other sweeteners). The overall hit of flavor is definitely sweet and tangy with a bit of heat in there.

This recipe is suitable for: VEGETARIANS – VEGANS – GLUTEN FREE DIETS

a small glass jar with imli ki chutney in it, labelled with a brown tag against a blue backdrop


How to store Imli ki Chutney?

Simply pour the chutney in a dry glass jar with an airtight lid. Use a clean dry spoon everytime you need to have some chutney time. You can also freeze the chutney indefinitely.

How long can I store the chutney for?

If stored properly, the chutney can stay fresh in the fridge for upto 70 days and indefinitely in the freezer. The longest it has stayed in my freezer is for about a year.

Can I use anything other than dates to sweeten the chutney?

Ofcourse! In Fact you can use any sweetener you like! There’s a whole list of substitutes up ahead. The only reason dates are preferred in this chutney is because they not only act as a nutritious sweetener, but also add that thick texture to the chutney.


ingredients for sweet tamarind chutney
Ingredients needed for Sweet Tamarind Chutney
  • Tamarind (Imli)- The most easily available tamarind are in these 3 forms:
    • Tamarind block with seeds
    • Tamarind block without seeds
    • Tamarind Paste
      The paste is a ready to use option where no real cooking is needed. While the block tamarind takes a little bit of time to extract the tamarind concentrate. I’ve mentioned how to use both in the recipe
  • Sweetener – The sweetness comes from dates in this recipe, which is made into a paste. You can buy a ready-to-use date paste if you want to avoid the hassle of making your own paste. However, dates aren’t compulsory to use in the recipe. Use any sweetener of your liking:
    • Regular white sugar
    • Brown sugar or molasses
    • Coconut sugar
    • Artificial sweeteners like stevia
    • Honey
    • A combination of these sweeteners.
  • Salt, spices – The flavoring in this recipes comes from roasted cumin, coriander and red chilies. Also known as the DAHI BARA spice mix. You can make your own spice mix or buy a boxed dahi bara spice blend as well.
  • Optional Ingredients Asafoetida (hing) and dry ginger powder (saunth) are also 2 commonly used ingredients in a tamarind chutney. Add a pinch of Asafoetida and 1/2 tsp of ginger powder to add another layer of flavor.

NOTE: Asafoetida has a very strong aroma and taste, so if you’ve never tried it or added it to your food, its best to avoid it with this chutney.

Step by Step

METHOD 1 – With Tamarind paste And Date Paste

The easiest way to make this chutney is to use a tamarind paste and date paste. It will literally take you 5 mins to make the chutney with this combo! You just need to add all the ingredients in a saucepan with water and boil for 5 mins. Viola!

But of course, some of us like to work for our chutney (not really 😛 we are just on a budget). In which case, we are going to be using tamarind blocks and whole dates for the recipe

METHOD 2 – With Tamarind block And whole Dates


Start by removing seeds from your dates and soaking them in boiling water for about 10 mins or until the water comes to room temperature. Then put the dates in a blender and make a fine smooth paste. Now set this aside.

HACK ALERT: Soaking the dates make them softer and easier to make into a paste.

Step 2 – Extracting tamarind pulp from Block

Like the dates, you need to soak tamarind blocks in boiling water as well to loosen up the pulp. After about 10 mins, use a fork to break the blocks and use your hand to mush up the blocks completely. Be Careful for the hot water!

Use a strainer and remove the brown pulp water directly into a saucepan. Repeat the process 3 to 4 times until you can see clean seeds and only debris. You will end up with a lot of pulpy water! Which you now have to cook down.

Step 3 – Boiling the tamarind water with spices

Boil the tamarind water at high flame, along with all the spices and seasonings. When your water cooks down to half, add the date paste and cook for another 5 to 7 mins.

tamarind water and dates boiling in water in a steel saucepan along with spices

Turn off the flame and do a salt, sweet, spice test and adjust the flavors according to your liking. If you feel like you need more sweetness, you can totally add a little brown sugar or honey at this point rather than soaking more dates.

Allow your chutney to cool down and store them in airtight glass jars in the fridge. Go ahead and enjoy it as you like!

Expert Tips

  • Always use a glass jar to store condiments.
  • Make sure your jar or storage bags are dry before pouring your chutney in it.
  • Don’t overcook the chutney to get a thicker consistency. You may end up burning it. Instead, let the chutney air dry while it cools. It’ll thicken up considerably.
  • Always use a clean dry spoon whenever using the chutney from the fridge.
  • The chutney tends to boil like rice do, so make sure your chutney water only reaches upto 3 quarters of your saucepan and there is enough room for the chutney to rise up while it boils.
imli or tamarind chutney in 3 glass jars, one on top of the other two. all jars labelled with tags

Serving Suggestions

Like I said, this imli ki chutney works as a topping sauce or a dipping sauce with a LOT of snacks and mains. Here are some ideas:

  • On dahi bara (shown below)
  • With mix chaats like Papri Chaat (shown below)
  • Use as the sweet chutney for pani puris
  • Perfect to pair with bbqs like chicken tikka etc
  • I would totally give this as favors to my non-desi folks to try it out.
  • On paratha rolls, sandwiches or wraps.
  • With Indian/Pakistani fried snacks like pakoras, kachori samosas etc.

Similar Recipes

Mint Chutney
Schezwan Sauce
Dahi baray

a wooden spoon taking out a spoonful of imli ki chutney in a labelled jar

Sweet Tamarind Chutney

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A classic sweet and tangy chutney made with tamarind and dates.


  • 1 + 1/2 cup dates, seeds removed OR 3/4 cup of date paste.
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp Dahi bara spice (see notes)
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp chat masala powder (see notes)

Emli - Use only ONE of these three options

  • 300 gms of tamarind pulp block with seeds
  • 200 gms of tamarind pulp block without seeds
  • 100 gms of tamarind paste (unflavoured)



  1. IF you are using ready to use pastes, just add 4 cups of water in a saucepan, allow it to bowl, add all the ingredients and cook for 5 mins until you reach a thick chutney like consistency.
  2. Do a taste test to check salt, heat and sweetness and adjust salt and date paste according to your liking.


  1. Soak the dates in a bowl with 1 cup of boiling water and set aside for 10 mins. In a separate bowl, soak tamarind blocks in 2 cups of water and set aside for 10 mins.
  2. Use a spoon or fork and break the block of tamarind into little pieces. When the water turns mild, use your hands to really squeeze all the block to release all the tamarind juices from the seeds etc.
  3. Use a strainer and transfer all the liquid into a large saucepan.
  4. Add more water to the leftover tamarind pulp, this time room temperature and repeat the process till you get most of the goodness out of the block and are only left with bits and pieces and/or seeds. Don't worry about how much water you are using, we'll cook it down eventually.
  5. Put the saucepan on the stove at high flame and add all the spices. Let the chutney boil uncovered for 20 mins.
  6. In the meantime, blend the dates with water in a blender making sure to get a smooth paste.
  7. Add this paste to the chutney that is boiling on the stove.
  8. Once your chutney cooks down halfway through and reaches a nice saucy chutney consistency, turn off the flame.
  9. Do a taste test to check salt, heat and sweetness and adjust salt and date paste according to your liking.
  10. Allow the chutney to cool down uncovered. It'll thicken a bit more as it cools. Transfer into waterproof jars and store in the fridge.


  • You can also use white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, artificial sweetener as well instead of dates. You can also try using a combination of dates and honey.
  • Dahi bara masala is a dry roasted ground spice mix made with whole red chilies, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. For this recipe, use 8 whole red chilies, 1 tbsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds. Dry roast them in pan and grind to make a coarsely ground spice mix.
  • Chaat masala are a South Asian finishing spice used to sprinkle on salads, and street food and other recipes. You can easily get this in any South Asian grocery store. IF you don't have any, you can skip it altogether and just increase the dahi bara spice by 1 tsp.

Did you make this recipe?

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