Tamarind chutney family recipe

Jai Wati with her tamarind chutney at the Suva Municipal Market. Picture: ATASA MOCEITUBA

JAI Wati learnt how to make tamarind chutney during a pooja at a temple.

When she was about 18 years old, she remembered taking down notes of all the ingredients and methods to cook a perfect one.

She said her mother, who was sickly then, taught her how to cook all kinds of chutneys except the tamarind chutney which she learnt from a lady at the temple.

Today, Mrs Wati vends at the Suva Municipal Market and sells her very own tamarind chutney along with ginger, lemons, bhindi and pawpaws.

She comes to the market six days a week from Mondays to Saturdays and has two tables.

Mrs Wati who has been a market vendor for 40 years is the sole provider for her and her two sons.

“My younger son is physically challenged so my eldest son stays home and looks after him while I come to the market,” she said.

“When I’m sick, I have no choice but to close my stall and only on a few occasions, my older son would step in to look after it. Business is sometimes slow for me – some days I rake in a lot of money and other days I don’t. Tamarind chutney is good business for me and my prices range from $4 to $20 a jar.”

Mrs Wati shares with us her method of cooking chutney.

“Soak about 1.5 kg worth of tamarind in a big pot for a whole day and night,” said Mrs Wati.

“First pour mustard oil in a dry pot, roast the ginger paste, followed by the garlic and chilli paste.

This is then followed by the seeds like black cumin, fenugreek, mustard seeds, curry leaves and sugar. Mash and pour the tamarind into the pot. I usually use 10kg of sugar to just cook it and the longer you cook it the more thick the chutney gets. When that’s done, take it off the stove and let it cool down.”

When it’s cool, store into small jars, she adds.

“I make two weeks’ worth of chutney so it’s easier for me,” she said.

“Roughly, I could earn about $50 to $60 in two weeks just from selling chutneys.”

When both her parents died, Mrs Wati said she took over her fathers market business

“I’m the only market vendor from my family left now,” said Mrs Wati.

“When I turned 14, I decided to focus on our family business and I have been doing that until today.”