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Much like our hankering for that one true soulmate, we all have an ideal version of the perfect imli chutney that we spend our whole lives searching for. Its roots, if traced, will probably lead us back to a faint childhood memory of our favourite after-school roadside bhel or endless rounds of homemade pani puri shared with cousins where the imli chutney, made with fresh tamarind pulp, would be the first to run out.

For such a tall order of a sauce, the complex flavours of which any self-respecting chaat-lover can summon to his/her tastebuds in a flash, it’s commendable that Pico would attempt to bottle it. 

In broad terms, without attempting to generalize, a good imli chutney should be a bold amalgamation of sweet, spicy & sour notes. There is no room for subtlety here. Pico’s Imli Chutney tastes like imli chutney, but a pulled back version of the real thing. 

Things start off with promise. Squeezed out of its plastic bottle, the dark brown sauce looks the part in colour and consistency. Taste it and the first few seconds that the flavours envelop your mouth are actually not bad at all.

There’s a grittiness to the texture that attests to the use of real tamarind pulp and there’s a definite zingy note.

Incidentally, I found that this zinginess develops over time as you store the chutney in the fridge for a few days. 

But still, the chutney lacks a roundness to it, which makes the taste experience feel incomplete and anti-climactic. The best I can compare it to is going on an amusement ride where you’re taken to the very top and then the engine stops and the ride creaks slowly back to its starting point. Given a pretty pure list of ingredients, this taste let-down is probably the fault of the preservatives. I’m sure the creators at Pico had to reach some kind of compromise between authenticity and a longer shelf life.

So is Pico Imli Chutney worth the purchase? If you can’t be bothered to make your own imli chutney – because really, how hard is it! – I’d say go for it but with low expectations. You won’t be terribly disappointed. It’s a good, cheap substitute if you need lots of it for a lunch party or some kind get-together.

Be careful while travelling with it though. My bottle leaked after I had opened it and carried it with me to the office for photos for this review. I suggest wrapping it in a plastic bag before you stash it in your bag. 

Product: Pico Imli Chutney
Weight: 229g
Price: Rs.49

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