The fruit of the tamarind tree has become an iconic ingredient in India and Pakistan, earning itself the moniker of the “date of India”.
The tamarind tree is actually native to Africa but has been introduced to other tropical regions around the world, including areas of India and Pakistan where it now grows in abundance. The fruit from the tree produces bean-like pods that are filled with seeds and a fibrous pulp.
In the fruit’s early stages the pulp is green and sour but as the fruit ripens, the pulp develops into a thick and sticky paste with a sweet-sour flavour profile that is used in a huge number of dishes. But it isn’t just the culinary world in which tamarind has a place; it is also used for its medicinal and household properties.
Tamarind is high in tartaric acid, a white crystalline organic acid which can chelate metal ions such as calcium and magnesium which makes it perfect for a number of industrial properties or as a household metal polish. Tamarind’s properties make it perfect for polishing brass or copper items around the home, removing the need for harsh chemicals that can be harmful for health.
The medicinal properties of tamarind cannot be understated. The bark and leaves have been used for centuries to promote wound healing whilst it can also be used to brew a tea that can be used to treat anything from peptic ulcers to fevers.
It’s the presence of polyphenols within tamarind paste that has scientists studying its properties for use in even more modern medicines. Polyphenols contain high concentrations of both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that we know are important in fighting against growing problems like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Tamarind is used to create dishes all over the world; from Mexico to South East Asia, The Caribbean to the Middle East as well as Pakistan and India, this famous paste can be used to make anything from chutneys, sauces, marinades, desserts and even some drinks.
You can taste some traditional tamarind flavoured dishes at Royal Nawaab restaurant today.