21 February 2008

Tamarinds ..the magical fruit

One of the bonuses of blogging is learning about new cultures and ingredients used in different cuisines. Another bonus is making new friends across the globe. Jenn of Leftover Queen suggested we make a "little exchange" when we read each others posts. Jenn is the one person I have known the longest in the blogosphere. There are many things that drew me to her blog besides her fabulous Mediterranean and other delicious recipes. She has an entrepenurial spirit that exudes a passion for food and what she does. She is the founder of the Foodie Blogroll and the Royal Foodie Joust.
Jenn made a delicious chicken dish with tamarind paste...but what is a tamarind...says I ? She loved the sound of the horehound flavoured birch syrup in my post. So we had a "little exchange"! "I made her an offer she couldn't refuse"...from the Godfather in case it's not familar.

My parcel arrived yesterday with some lovely treats inside. First there were the actual tamarind pods with their sweet & sour "sticky stuff". I can see how these would be very addictive and who would have thought they grow tamarind in Florida as shade trees? Jenn says, "To eat them, crack open the pod, pull off the stringy things and eat the sticky stuff". They are so unfamiliar to me I needed instruction, so thank you for that Jenn!

Secondly she sent along some Tamarind-Chili candies from Thailand. They are spicy sweet as Jenn suggested and super addictive too!

Plus... as an added bonus Jenn sent along some of her favourite coffee beans from her friend Lisabeeen who hand roasts all her own beans. She can be contacted here at Lisabeeen . I will grind them up and enjoy a nice "cuppa". See, I met a "new to me" blogger once again!!

I have become the unofficial expert on Tamarind (when I GOOGLED the information in anticipation of my package from Jenn)

The fruit from the tamarind tree is a brown pod-like legume which contains a soft acidic pulp and many hard-coated seeds. The fruit was well known to the ancient Egyptians and to the Greeks in the 4th Century B.C. In all tropical and near-tropical areas, including South Florida, it is grown as a shade and fruit tree. It grows along roadsides and in parks. They plant it commercialy in Mexico, Belize and other Central American countries including northern Brazil. In India as well there are extensive tamarind orchards producing 275,500 tons annually. It reminds me of our locust trees that have similar pods and grow along the roadsides with the loveliest fragrant flowers.

Have you heard of tamarind? It does have alternative names in different countries and languages for the "Indian date".
- in Malaysia it is called asam. - in Indonesia it is called asem (or asam) Jawa (means Javanese asam) in Indonesian.
in the Philippines it is called sampaloc and sambag.- in India it is tentuli, imli, chinch, tẽtul, siyambal, chintapandu, puli, hunase, voamadilo.- the Vietnamese term is me.- in Puerto Rico it is called tamarindo.
- in Taiwan it is called loan-tz
I have been eating tamarinds for breakfast this morning. Jenn suggested that I make a milkshake with the tamarind using frozen vanilla yogurt. I will take her up on that!!
More of my useless (well not exactly useless) facts on the tamarind:
1) To cure lack of appetite, nausea, morning sickness, and digestive disease in children, use 15-30 grams of tamarind flesh. Heat it with sugar until it is blended.

2) To cure pocks, mix tamarind flesh with red ocher and apply on the pocks.

3) To cure diarrhea and vomiting, stir fry tamarind seeds until they are burnt and crack the shells open. Use 20-30 seeds, soak them in salted water until soft and eat.

4) Few plants will survive beneath a tamarind tree and there is a superstition that it is harmful to sleep or to tie a horse beneath one, probably because of the corrosive effect that fallen leaves have on fabrics in damp weather.

5) Some African tribes venerate the tamarind tree as sacred. To certain Burmese, the tree represents the dwelling-place of the rain god and some hold the belief that the tree raises the temperature in its immediate vicinity.

6) In Nyasaland, tamarind bark soaked with corn is given to domestic fowl in the belief that, if they stray or are stolen, it will cause them to return home. In Malaya, a little tamarind and coconut milk is placed in the mouth of an infant at birth, and the bark and fruit are given to elephants to make them wise.

If ever you have the chance to try a tamarind...by all means do!! It is delicious in a paste form or in a milkshake!!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Such a fascinating post! I've only ever used tamarind past, and I've never seen a fresh tamarind, so I was very excited to finally see one in your photo - and to learn more about them! They sound like so much fun!

  2. We grew up sucking on homemade Tamarind lollipops!:D
    Pound the tamarind, salt and chilli pd until gooey and stick the ball on a stick,run around half the day sucking that! No candy in the World matches that pleasure!:)
    Of course,we use Tamarind in most of our dishes too. Juice of Tamarind, sugar and ginger juice makes yummy beverage called Paanaka. I posted it while ago.Great post Valli.

  3. I have never had tamarind before! What a fun exchange!

  4. Tamarinds...tamarinds...the magical fruit. The more you eat them...the more you...hang on - maybe that's beans.

    I had never heard of tamarinds. Thanks for the lesson. I hope you post your use of it!

  5. It was very ionteresting Astra :D to learn more about something I have never heard of previously.
    The lollipos sounds wonderful Asha. You lucky ducks :D
    It was fun Deborah :D
    I thought of that Psychgrad, but did not know if it was true or not....:D...eat tamarinds with every meal...

  6. I've had tamarind in Asian dishes but I've never cooked with them.

    You should find them in Asian stores in Van City at Asian stores, like here in TO.

    Oh, those candies ARE yummy (red wrapper).

  7. I never saw tamarinds before. Thanks for sharing this with us. I learned something today.

  8. Gosh Val, thanks for the lesson in tamarinds! I never knew all of that! Learn something new everyday on the blog, like you eat your lunch before 10, too funny.
    And of all times to have clouds in Key West, it was last night !!! I was very upset as I had my telescope all set to go!
    What a great set of posts you had today - how do you find the time?

  9. I blog when I have the time and then post later. Today has been a whirl wind of posts I guess....lots to share :D

  10. Me loves tamarind. In Mexico we eat the sticky stuff right off the pod. but the most popular way is to drink tamarindo "aguas frescas" You boil them add some sugar and use that as a drink. It is delicious in the summertime :D
    You've been busy blogging this week. I am having trouble keeping up with you ;)

  11. That is an offer you can't refuse!
    *Godfather theme song starts playing*
    I'm glad Jenn didn't send you a horse head.

    I must try using tamarind! We have it in the paste form here.

  12. I am very happy that you have been introduced to tamarind and like it! We make drink with it, a chutney-pickle that we call achar, as a souring agent in curries and in Thai food it is so highly sought after. Continue to enjoy.

  13. We do have tamarind here. In the pods and packages of the fruit out of the pod. I admit, i have never used it though! Maybe it's right time!

  14. I love tamarind. I've never worked with the actual fruits before (and feel oblivious--I live in FL, but never knew they grow here!), but instead I have a jar of concentrate (the Indian grocery carries it in pretty much all forms). A very tasty ingredient to work with--I did a sweet & sour orange tamarind chicken which worked really well. I'd be curious to taste the tamarind sweets...and to see what you've got in store for us with tamarind! ;-)

  15. Fresh tamarind beans sound pretty interesting. I have used tamarind paste but it would be nice to see what fresh is like. I will have to look for some whole beans.

  16. Hi Val,
    Oh I love the tamarind-chili candies from Thailand, they are so addictive. Now you are making me miss tamarind, which then makes me miss Singapore... I'm glad that Jenn helped you discovered tamarind. :-)

    have a good weekend ahead,

  17. What an interestin post Nuria and I did not either know anything about tamarind until today. However the try looks familiar.

  18. Seems that I am growing old and forgetting that I was visiting Val's site (hehehehe) I know you are all laughing at me now.

  19. I'm glad that the post on tamarinds taught some of us about a new ingredient, brought back memories for others...it is all about learning. And Ivy they grow tamarinds in Chile so I can see why you would think you're talking to someone from the tropics on tamarind. I spell peoples name wrong, forget whom I'm talking to...depending on the time of day I am blogging....Alzheimer's :D

  20. Ha, ha, ha, sorry Ivy it was fun! But make people laugh is, if not the first, one of the most important things in life, so, Thank you, Ivy!!! :D

    Actually I haven't read the post yet, Val. I'll be back after lunch. See you then :D

  21. I've never heard of tamarind so thank you for sharing and what interesting information!

  22. My "after lunch" has been the day after, sorry couldn't come before!

    What a great post Val!!! You are my private encyclopedia :D I love to know about Tamarindo (that's its name here too). We don't have many in Barcelona but I've seen some. I think that their flower is blue/purple soooooo beautiful.

    This thing you mention about sleeping under the tamarind tree... we have the same saying about the figs tree. It is said it's no good because it can give you headache.
    Would love to try some.

  23. Nuria is that you :D I have yet to try a fresh fig :D


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