To say I love tamarind is an understatement. This brown beverage might as well be liquid chocolate, because that’s how much my taste buds enjoy it, and I think my tummy might like it even more!
Swap your cola for this; it has been my morning and pre-lunch juice while I’ve been out here in Zanzibar. The sweet tangy flavour is like no other — it’s a fantastic way to get the digestive juices flowing and also the perfect palette cleanser. And if you’re on the market for a hangover cure, look no further. This magical nectar also helps boost your metabolism, maintain your immune system, protect stomach and heart health and is recommended for diabetic people, all while bringing you antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Tamarind can be enjoyed as a jam, a chutney, a dipping sauce and so many other ways. I grew up with tamarind flavours in some of the Filipino stews my mum made. I’ve also used it in East by West for my tamarind, courgette and parsnip curry on cauliflower “rice” page 133 and in my South Indian Moong Sambhar on page 183.
Now, it’s not so easy to get this funny-looking fruit in the UK, so I’m sharing a recipe to make it two ways — either with the stringy fruit still in the pods or with the pre-packed dried fruit sold in blocks, like a slab of dried date pulp (which it’s not too dissimilar in appearance). Avoid the tamarind pastes that can sometimes be found in jars, as these might have been flavoured or have preservatives added. Move over, cola, there’s a new drink in town!
2 cups of dried tamarind pulp or fresh tamarind removed from the pods
500ml boiled water
Jaggery or raw honey to taste
Place the tamarind pulp in a heat-proof mixing bowl and pour over 500ml of freshly boiled water.
Stir in a teaspoon to a tablespoon (to taste) of jaggery. If using raw honey, as per the traditional recipe, add when the the tamarind juice is cool enough to dip your finger in*
When the water has cooled, use your hands to remove the seeds and break up the pulp before covering the bowl and leaving to rest for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.
Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve or cloth, taste and adjust the sweetener and add lime, if using.
Serve cool or at room temperature rather than fridge cold.
*(Ayurveda tells us not to heat raw honey).
East by West tip: For variation and to enjoy more spices, add cinnamon, vanilla or grated ginger to the tamarind before soaking.