Our nearby produce stand displays bulk tamarind pods close to checkout. On an impulse I tossed a couple of pods into my basket thinking I’d put one of the bulging beans into a stir-fry, get the essence out of it, fish it out and have its nice flavoring.
There appears to be no quick route to tamarind’s unique flavoring. Processing blocks of tamarind pulp requires time-consuming soaking, simmering and sieving for a limited yield of the sticky, brown substance. Our solution is to make it far easier on yourself and shop for tamarind concentrate in jars or as a paste in tubes usually available in ethnic grocery stores.
Tamarind is credited with bringing-up the umami or savory factor in whatever you are cooking. Its pods, constructed something like a green bean, called Indian Dates by the Brits, are fruity with a welcome dash of tartness. If you’re into cooking with chiles and things sweet and sour, tamarind is that distinctive flavor found in Pad Thai, Worcestershire Sauce and many Mexican and Indian dishes.
Native to Eastern Africa and Madagascar, tamarind is now grown in most tropical regions of the world. It was also used in Egypt and Greece by the 4th century BCE. It is not related to the tamarillo, native to South America.
Some value tamarind for its richness in B and C vitamins and calcium. It is also appreciated for its cooling quality in drinks on hot days.
Store purchased tamarind products as indicated on label.
It is best to cook tamarine with with aromatics such as chiles, coconut milk, shallots, onion, garlic and/or, ginger root, rather than herbs. Below are compatible combinations for tamarind.
- Bean dishes, lentils
- Bloody Marys
- Dipping sauces
- Pad Thai
- Roasted red peppers
- Salad dressings
- Summer drinks
Below are foodsites with recipies using tamarind.