The F&W Guideline to Tamarind

Versie Dortch

It’s sweet, extreme, and acerbic at at the time. It balances, tenderizes, and has the capacity to recover. This kind of descriptors could sum up the complexities of enjoy. But in this occasion, I explain tamarind, the flexible ingredient that brightens and brings contrast to whatever it touches. Tamarind has the electrical power to deliver sharp aid to the sweetest of desserts and to infuse sweet-tart enjoyment into spicy, savory dishes that satisfy all comers. How do I love thee, tamarind? Let me depend the strategies.

I have normally been a sweet-and-sour individual. My Indonesian combined heritage in a natural way placed tamarind as 1 of my most necessary kitchen area staples I use the plump, pod-like fruit widely in soups these kinds of as ikan kuah asam (Timorese Fish-and-Tamarind Soup), to time peanut sauce or the very hot chile condiment sambal, and in a sequence of sour-and-spicy dishes regarded as asam pedas featuring tamarind and chile. It is as typical an ingredient as lime or lemon in an array of food cultures, but for a lot of, tamarind serves an even deeper and more meaningful goal.

Indigenous to Africa, the tamarind tree has been cultivated for countless numbers of a long time in tropical areas of the world, like Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South The us. Escalating up to 80 feet tall, it can reside close to 200 a long time with a generate of 385 lbs . of fruit just about every year. The foliage of the tamarind tree delivers a fernlike canopy of shade, its feathered leaves opening up to the early morning sunlight and closing at night time. A member of the pea relatives (Fabaceae), the leguminous tree creates a hanging fruit wrapped inside a brittle, bulbous pod resembling a extended, knobbly, light-brown finger, 4 to 8 inches extensive. Cocooned in it is tamarind pulp, a sticky, fibrous mass with a date-like texture, encased in strings and veins that encompass up to a dozen seeds, relying on the place it is grown. 

No element of the evergreen tamarind tree is wasted its versatility is element of its magic. Its magnificence has been remarked on in literature for hundreds of years (Edgar Allan Poe wrote of “summer time desires beneath the tamarind tree”), and lots of cultures revere it. The tamarind tree is sacred to the Bambara individuals of Mali, wherever it symbolizes multiplicity and renewal. In Myanmar, some think it is the dwelling spot of the rain god, and in Buddhism, it signifies faithfulness and forbearance. Tamarind lumber is utilised for woodwork, its pulp as a metallic polish for ornaments in Buddhist temples. In India, tamarind leaves are manufactured into a tea to relaxed a sore throat and add a new, bitter flavor to curries and chutneys, even though tamarind seeds are floor down for use as the souring agent in bread. In the Caribbean, complete tamarind seeds are roasted and appreciated as a snack. 

While each and every element of the tree is employed, it is the fruit—the tamarind pods—that has the biggest software in cookery, providing a wide and outstanding spectrum of taste. The unripe fruit starts off its early lifestyle green and hugely acidic but steadily sweetens and darkens in shade as it ripens. At its most mature, tamarind gets pretty much totally sweet, with only a whisper of sourness. In Mexico and the Caribbean, it is frequent for the ripest fruits to be plucked from the tree and cracked open up, the sweet, alluring flesh eaten by youngsters and grownups alike. When the flesh of sweet tamarind is mixed with brown sugar and rolled, it becomes a Caribbean delicacy recognised as tamarind balls, often seasoned with a little floor scorching pepper or rum. In between those people two stages is mild reddish-brown ripe tamarind, which has an intensely and pleasantly sour taste with a refreshing, acidic tang reminiscent of caramel and dried stone fruit. It’s the most prevalent type of tamarind and the one particular I lean on in my cooking. A important component in a great deal of South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, ripe tamarind enhances savory dishes these kinds of as soups, curries, rice dishes, stews, and stir-fries—it is a person of the defining functions of the stir-fried noodle dish pad thai. It is really ripe tamarind that provides Worcestershire sauce its distinct tang. In West Africa, tamarind pods are simmered with rice and fish in Senegal’s national dish thiéboudienne—the checklist goes on. 

A person of the gifts of tamarind is that it coaxes household cooks to interact in the skill of seasoning. On its have, it preferences predominantly sour, commonly giving all the acidity a dish desires, but it will want to be well balanced delicately against sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, spiciness, and umami. Tamarind performs a crucial role in rounding a dish without overpowering other flavors, and contrary to other souring brokers these as lime or lemon, it can be cooked for lengthy durations devoid of the flavor modifying or deteriorating. Applied as a marinade for my smoky, lacquered Tamarind Hen (recipe p. 90), the superior acidic articles of tamarind adds flavor whilst tenderizing.

Ripe tamarind’s attribute sharpness also requires flight in sweets, offsetting the richness of caramel in my Tamarind Millionaire’s Shortbread and adding complexity and fruity acidity to cakes and distinction to candies. Put together with sugar and h2o, it becomes the refreshing and common agua de tamarindo of Mexico, and with the addition of aromatics like vanilla or ginger, it transforms into thirst-quenching tamarind juice from the Caribbean and African nations spanning Cairo to the Swahili coastline. Combined with lemongrass and lime leaves, I adore it as a foundation for a tamarind twist on an Arnold Palmer or a daiquiri (browse far more below).

Tamarind adds its bewitching sharp-and-tangy tones to cuisines throughout the planet it is a magical ingredient that has the electricity to remedy, quench, and make our mouths pucker (in the very best way possible). And like the very best adore stories, it is loaded with nuance and ripe with prospects.

Tamarind fruit can be ordered as cellophane- wrapped pulp in blocks in jars or containers, offered as tamarind paste, puree, or concentrate or as new or dried tamarind pods. For the ideal tamarind taste in the recipes that comply with, we phone for making tamarind water from tamarind pulp or pods.

1. Pods

Total tamarind pods are classified based on the phase at which they have been harvested. Bitter tamarind, or inexperienced, unripe tamarind, is the most tart and acidic. Ripe tamarind is brown, with a pleasantly strong bitter style. Sweet tamarind can be eaten straight from the pod. Source new pods at some important supermarkets, Asian and Indian grocers, and on-line.

2. Pulp

Dried tamarind pulp is marketed in cellophane-wrapped blocks that include the membrane and seeds from tamarind pods. As soon as tamarind pulp has occur into contact with air, it oxidizes, which is why these blocks are typically medium to deep brown, or even black, in coloration. 

3. Pastes

Pastes are seedless and damp and are produced from the flesh of tamarind that has been diluted with drinking water, earning it easy to integrate into dishes. Excellent-top quality pastes should only consist of tamarind, h2o, and (sometimes) a preservative, but no synthetic sweeteners or corn syrup. Our testers appreciated Somboon brand tamarind paste, which comes in bricks. 

4. Concentrates

Tamarind concentrates are thick and black with a molasses-like consistency. The extreme taste of tamarind concentrate gives oomph to the marinade for Tamarind Hen and enlivens the caramel in Tamarind Millionaire’s Shortbread. Concentrates may possibly also be diluted to a flavor equivalent to tamarind h2o, if wished-for, by mixing them with h2o. Glimpse for Tamicon model.

5. Frozen

There is also frozen unsweetened tamarind, which can have a weaker potency, so you may perhaps want to add additional to style. Thinner and considerably less intensely flavored than other sorts, merely defrost and use as wanted. 

6. Powder

At last, there is certainly tamarind powder, created from dehydrated and ground tamarind. This pungent, very concentrated type of tamarind can be employed to flavor candies, drinks, and sauces the place a recipe phone calls for it, but it can’t be substituted for the paste, concentrate, pods, or pulp.

How to Make Tamarind Water

To unlock the sour power of refreshing tamarind, the pods or pulp need to very first be made into tamarind drinking water. This tangy essence of tamarind is created by steeping fibrous tamarind flesh in boiling h2o, and then straining it. An equal amount of large-quality tamarind focus, like Tamicon, thinned with drinking water may well also be used in these recipes, but it will absence the vivid and fragile excellent of from-scratch tamarind h2o.

How to Make Tamarind Cocktails

Fragrant lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and spicy ginger blend with tart fruity tamarind and prosperous, sweet coconut sugar to create a potent and delicious Tamarind Cocktail Base that can be utilized in all sorts of concoctions. Mixed with rum and fresh new lime juice, it results in being a zippy Tamarind Daiquiri with the addition of tequila and a splash of club soda, it turns into a refreshing Tamarind Cooler. Or try out it in mix with your favorite iced tea for Tamarind Arnold Palmer. Lara Lee, who came up with the Tamarind Cocktail Foundation, also loves to add a splash of it to Dark and Stormy cocktails and Mojitos. Want to put together your cocktail blend in advance? Simply just freeze the tamarind cocktail foundation in ice cube trays and they will melt immediately when stirred together with the remaining components.

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