Tamarind

Tamarind is a wonderful additive to sauces, but the fresh, sticky pulp inside the pods can also be eaten as a sweet-sour treat.

Tamarind is the fruit of a tree native to East Africa and Asia. The juice is used in a variety of ethnic cuisines, including those of Asia, India, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Thai cooks, in particular, incorporate this sweet-sour treat in savory dishes.

It is an important ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and some barbecue sauces and ketchups, but can also be consumed fresh as a snack. Tamarind makes delicious chutneys, curries, and drinks as well.

Varieties

There is only one species of tamarind tree from which the dark reddish, curved pods are harvested. The pods, which grow to about 7 inches in length, contain seeds and fibrous strips that must be strained to reserve the sticky pulp.

Sold as whole pods, paste, extract, nectar and in powdered form.

May also be called tamarindo, asam, and Indian date.

Pulp extract is available and more convenient than boiling whole pods.

Sweet tamarind is available for use in beverages.

Buying Tips

Purchase extract if available as it’s much more convenient than boiling pods.

Compressed pulp is also formed into blocks. These may be labeled as “wet” or “water” tamarind.

Whole pods include the “husks,” which easily peel away on mature fruits.

Some Asian markets may carry “makahm wahn,” which is the sweetest.

Always check labels; some types have added salt and should not be used in sweet dishes.

Storage Tips

Keep whole pods and compressed blocks in plastic bags away from heat and light. They’ll be usable indefinitely.

Refrigerate liquids (water tamarind) after opening and use within two weeks. Juice, whether purchased or homemade, will begin to ferment within one week.

There is no need to refrigerate pastes or concentrates until opening.

Concentrated pulp freezes well.

Usage Tips

Tamarind is often used in marinades as an acidic tenderizer.

When reconstituting, always strain to remove fibrous pulp and any seeds.

Include with sweet fruits such as pears and peaches.

For most recipes, the tamarind pulp should have the c

by BigOven editorial team
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