Tamarind is a pod-like fruit from the Indian date tree native to tropical Africa, with each pod containing 6-12 seeds surrounded by a sticky pulp. With a lemony prune taste, tamarind is valued as a souring agent in Indian, Thai and Latin American cuisine.
Tamarind is available in Asian food stores as fresh pods when in season (early spring to late fall), as paste in jars or pressed into slabs. To use fresh tamarind, separate the brown meat from the seeds. Tamarind paste is usually salted, so reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Tamarind slabs have to be soaked before use. Place the block of tamarind in a bowl and cover with warm water. Soak until softened, about 30 minutes, then break up the pulp with your hands. Press the mixture through a sieve and discard the seeds. The strained tamarind paste can be stored refrigerated for up to 1 month or frozen for up to 6 months.
Tamarind has a cooling effect and tamarind tea (one part paste to four parts water) is used to treat fevers or simply to cool down on a hot day. It also helps to boost digestion. Tamarind leaves, juice and bark decoction have antiseptic action and are used topically on the skin to treat skin ulcers and sores.« Back to Glossary Index