Recently on a business trip to Bali I was introduced to a pod with an interesting shape, weird in texture but with a surprisingly fruity, sweet and sour flavour. This fascinating sticky, fleshy and juicy pod came from the tamarind tree. It has been said that people either love it or hate it.
Have you heard of it?
The tamarind tree is indigenous to the tropical regions of Africa and Sudan, however its production has spread to many of neighbouring regions for its source of nutrition and unique flavours. Tamarind history dates back 5000 years ago through merchants in the Indian subcontinent and further to southeast asia into countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Today we know tamarind mainly for its wide use across Mexican cuisine.
During the Victorian era, the British living in the Indian state of Goa stuck tamarind pods into one of their ears to keep locals at a distance. Locals believed that the fresh pods were inhabited by demons, which therefore kept them from approaching Brits. This earned the nickname of “Lugimlee,” translated in english is “tamarind heads” which is still used today.
Tamarind fruit is used in local medicines but its full potential is found as food. Tamarind fruit can be eaten raw, cooked into deserts, jams, sauces and soups. When tamarind is dried it can be used ground into spice and or made into candies. Many believe that tamarind is a secret ingredient used in many cuisines across the world especially in vegetarian cuisine. Tamarind pulp mixed with a bit of salt is an excellent brass and copper polish.
Tamarind fruit can be found in several different forms:
The pods are least processed from of tamarind. You can easily open the pods and remove the pulp/fruit.
Shell and seeds are removed and the pulp/fruit is compressed into a block. Its natural flavour is still very close to raw tamarind.
Tamarind concentrate is pulp that has been boiled down and sometimes preservatives are added.
Tamarind & Chilli Margarita
60 ml 100% Agave blanco tequila infused with chilli*
20 ml Fresh lime juice
10-15 ml Tamarind syrup**
- Combine all ingredients into a shaker, add ice and hard shake.
- Double strain into chilled margarita glass.
- Garnish with fresh lime and dark chocolate on the side.
3 pieces of birds eye chilli
700 ml 100% agave blanco tequila
- Cut chilli and deseed, combine together and infuse overnight.
- Once infused, strain the chilli and bottle the infused tequila. This will last for a month – depending on your consumption speed 😉
** Tamarind Syrup
60g Tamarind paste
100g caster sugar
60g still water
- Bring water and tamarind paste to the boil then lower the heat.
- Add caster sugar and stir until it dissolves. Make sure the tamarind paste is dissolved properly and cool it down to room temperature.
- Bottle and keep refrigerated. We suggest using within 2 weeks for best flavours, but it will keep refrigerated up to 4 weeks.
Bartender’s note: “Did you know that tamarind is one of the secret ingredients of worcestershire sauce”