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Originally native to Africa, but used for centuries across all continents, the tamarind tree yields long seed pods with a hard, brown shell. Contained within these pods are up to 12 seeds, surrounded by an edible sweet & sour fleshy pulp, which is a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world.
The name ‘tamarind’ is of Arabic origin, meaning ‘date of India’, but nowadays the majority of tamarind is produced & consumed in Mexico & South Asia. In both Asia & South America, tamarind is often enjoyed as a snack, the pulp either eaten straight from the pod or rolled into balls and coated in sugar.
Unusually for a fruit, tamarind contains calcium, as well as being rich in B vitamins, sugar & acid. In fact, the acidic fruit pulp is used to polish brass shrine furniture in Buddhist temples. (Having tested this out at Seasoned Pioneers, we found that a bottle of regular brass polish is a little less messy!)
Tamarind is mostly supplied as a paste, which is the fruit pulp usually containing some seeds and fibres. Before use, cover the paste with hot water and once it has become soft and pliable, any stones and fibrous material can easily be removed.
Widely used across Asia & Indonesia in soups, curries, noodle dishes, marinades, sauces, pickles, chutneys & fried seafood dishes, we think it’s time everyone discovered the delights of tamarind.
Here’s a link to our recipe for a delicious Chicken Goan Xacuti
Alternatively, have a go at one of Karen’s favourite Thai dishes, Pla Rad Prik, easy to prepare & utterly scrumptious!