Tamarind Christmas Chutney

In my mind, every Christmas table needs two saucey elements: something chunky and fruity, and a smooth, flavourful gravy. Obviously this is the prior…and it is inspired by that classic Cantonese pairing of duck and plum with zingy tamarind.

I’ve included this recipe as a part of my Christmas menu however I pretty much always have some of this in the fridge or freezer! It makes an absolutely delicious stir-fry sauce as well – oohh….san choy bao with the Xmas leftovers, anyone!?

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Tips and Tricks

The flavour of this stuff really develops the longer it rests. I wholeheartedly recommend making it at least on Christmas Eve if you can. Or double it up and make it earlier in the week – it’ll save you time on the big day!

I’m not massive on star anise and so I make sure to only leave that and the cinnamon stick in for about 20 minutes, just enough to fully impart its flavour without getting too heavy. Then I let the texture figure itself out with a little black pepper.

Tamarind Chutney

This fun chutney is inspired by that classic Cantonese pairing of duck and plum with zingy tamarind. Easy adjustments can make this gluten-free and vegan-friendly.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Brunch, Christmas Food, Chutney, Condiment, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Cantonese, Chutney, Dipping Sauce, Plum, Sauce
Servings: 10 servings


  • Small saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Clean jar Roughly 250ml size.


  • 1/4 cup Tamarind pulp
  • 1/2 cup Hot water Plus extra as needed; up to 1 cup.
  • 3 tbsp Muscovado sugar Substitute: brown, cane, coconut sugar.
  • 2 Black plums Large.
  • 1 tbsp Hoisin sauce If you follow a gluten-free diet, look for a tamari based hoisin.
  • 1/2 Star anise If you're a big fan, add in a whole pod.
  • 1 Cinnamon stick Roughly 2" long.
  • 1 tbsp Fish sauce There are vegan substitutes on the market or replace with 1 tsp tamari/low sodium light soy sauce.
  • Coarse black pepper


  • If you have the time, it’s great to make this in advance as the flavours really strengthen over time.


  • Soak 2-3 tbsp of pulp in the hot water for five minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bash around the seeds a bit to loosen up the pulp.
  • Roughly dice the plums – there is no need to be precise, a rough chop gives us a nice texture.

The Cook.

  • Strain the tamarind water and pulp into the saucepan; discard the seeds but retain as much pulp as you can and add to the saucepan.
  • Add in the plums, star anise, cinnamon, hoisin, sugar and fish sauce.
  • If your plums are quite watery, just add a splash of water to get things stewing down. If they are unripe and a bit more tough, start with ½ cup and add more if needed to stew the fruit down.
  • Bring to a quick boil to melt the sugar and then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 20minutes. Keep an eye to make sure the mix isn’t burning; if it gets too sticky right away, add the odd splash of water.

Finishing Touches.

  • Discard the star anise and cinnamon. Add a large pinch of black pepper to taste.
  • Continue to stew for another 10-20 minutes until you have a nice, thickened mixture. Smash the plums a little to get the desired texture (it will only stiffen a little after cooling), pour into a clean jar to cool, and set aside until ready to serve.
  • The chutney keeps really well, even when opened, for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Add a couple of tablespoons into your next stir-fry or incorporate into your next cheeseboard for a fresh new flavour!


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Author: thedbkitchen

Niche-free recipes, created out of a pure love of food, by home cook Carmel de Bedin (that’s me!). Genuine, accessible dishes tried and taste-tested by a couple of food nerds who truly love a good meal.

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