Tamarind is a tart fruit used as a spice and souring agent. The fruit is shaped like a long bean, inside which is a sour pulp containing many seeds. The pulp can be pressed to form a block or processed to make a paste. Tamarind tastes a bit like a date but is less sweet (and more sour), and is sometimes known as the Indian date. It is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
Tamarind is used in the Middle East, India, Indonesia, the Caribbean, and Latin America in much the same way vinegars and lemon juice are in European cuisine. It is a basic flavouring for chutneys and is made into cooling drinks. The citric, sweet-sour flavour of tamarind goes well with chillies, and it is widely used in Mexico and in India with hot foods.
- Other Names
- Its name comes from the Arabic tamar hindi, which means “Indian date.” Its dark brown pulp reminded the nomadic Arabs, who imported tamarind from India since ancient times, of the familiar date.
- Asam koh (China), cay me (Vietnam), Indian date (Britain), tamar hindi (Middle East)
- Fresh tamarind pods are in season in spring and early summer and may be found in Asian, Indian, and Caribbean markets and well-stocked supermarkets.
- Available in pods, blocks, or as a concentrate. Tamarind juice is also available and some Asian supermarkets may sell tamarind pods which can be eaten raw. Select clean, relatively unbroken pods.
- Do not buy old, dried-out tamarind.
- Store the pods for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Cut open the pod and remove the flesh.
Separate the tamarind flesh from the seeds by scraping with a knife or by rubbing the seeds against a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Small pieces of tamarind cake can be broken off and infused to create an acidic liquid flavouring used in Asian and Caribbean cooking.
Combine boiling water with tamarind pulp, add sugar or honey to taste, and cool, covered, then strain, dilute with water, and serve over ice.
Soak pitted dates and tamarind pulp in cold water to cover, then blend with the soaking liquid, strain through a sieve, stir in salt, ground coriander seed, and brown sugar to taste to make a date-tamarind chutney.
Squeeze lime juice over fresh peeled tamarind pods and then dip in a mixture of sugar, ground chilli, and salt and eat raw.
Use tamarind to flavour meat and vegetable curries, chutneys and dhals.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Spice
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