This week – Tamarind.
Ever heard the saying:
“Money don’t grow on trees but tamarind does?”
Not surprising as I’ve just made it up… but it does serve to highlight my unwavering devotion for the next in the Cookson Spice ingredients to be placed under the spotlight – Tamarind.
The English pronounced ‘tamarind’ takes its name from the Arabic, ‘tamar-hindi’, meaning’ Indian date and it is indeed grown on trees (originally in Africa and now in most countries with a tropical climate).
India is currently the largest producer of tamarind in the world.
Now it may not look it, but tamarind is in fact… a fruit!
Humans have a long-established history of garnering a multitude of uses from the plants that grow around us, and tamarind is no exception.
Tamarind is used in the kitchen, around the home, as an effective medicine and even for weight loss!
Tamarind as an Ingredient:
If you’ve had sauces, marinades and chutneys in an Indian restaurant, then it’s possible you have already sampled tamarind pulp.
It has a distinctive sweet and sour taste which on one hand is stirred into simmering curries as a souring agent and on the other can be cooked down into a spicy desert paste.
Tamarinds bean like pods can also be transformed into an amazing fruity tarte puree.
Though beware, a single cup of tamarind contains 69 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which is the same as 17.5 teaspoons of sugar!
As well as being used as an ingredient, tamarinds natural acidity helps tenderize tough cuts of beef, breaking down the fibres in the meat. When marinated overnight in a tamarind-infused liquid, beef becomes succulent and tender—a fantastic technique for less expensive cuts.
Tamarind Around the Home:
Tamarind pulp works very well as a metal polish. It contains tartaric acid which removes tarnish from bronze and copper.
In Buddhist Asian countries, tamarind pulp is used to polish lamps and brass shrine statues.
Tamarind timber is also used to make speciality (and usually expensive) high grade furniture.
Tamarind as Medicine:
As a drink, tamarind was commonly used to treat both diarrhoea and constipation. The bark and leaves were also used to promote wound healing.
Tamarind has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can help protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Recent studies have also shown that the pulp extract may help you lose body weight and reverse fatty liver disease.
So, there you have it – Tamarind, the fruit with more uses than a swiss army knife.
Do you have any exciting tamarind-based recipes? We’d love to hear from you.
Till next time…