Tamarind is not an ingredient most people would recognize if they saw it in the grocery stores, but it’s a popular fruit with a unique flavor that is used in everything from candies to curry and even worcestershire sauce.
Tamarind is a tropical fruit and a legume. The fruit of the tamarind tree grows in pods. The tamarind tree is native to Thailand, tropical Africa and parts of India.
Seeds covered in a paste-like, sticky pulp, similar to a fig or date-like texture. The whole pods can be soaked in hot water and the tamarind paste squeezed out and removed from the seeds. The juice can also be strained and enjoyed on its own.
The pulp in fresh tamarind pods may have a sour taste like fresh lime juice, but it becomes a sweet flavor as it ripens. The flavor of tamarind is described as sour and tangy, but it can be as sweet as a banana when fully ripe.
The flavor can also be greatly impacted by what it is mixed with. Tamarind is sometimes sweetened with sugar or coconut milk for sweet recipes, while the combination of vinegar brings out the sour flavor.
Tamarind pulp is used to add flavor to marinades, sauces, drinks and desserts. It has even been used in Worcestershire and BBQ sauce. Tamarind sauce is an important ingredient in savory dishes like pad thai, curry and soups like mulligatawny.