Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tamarind season

My very old tamarind tree is now in fruit and I am not looking forward to that. Reason being is that I seldom use it and the ripe fruit falls to the ground. It becomes so messy that it is very difficult to walk under the tree without the sticky fruit clinging to shoes. I will now have to rake several time a week instead of once a week. I could make a drink out of tamarind or make tamarind balls. But that takes too much sugar which am trying to cut back on. For those of you who don't know tamarinds it is the most sour of fruits. It is a pod fruit and can be used green and dried. As a child in Trinidad we would eat it with salt and pepper or rolled in sugar into a ball. I used to boil a syrup with it and add spices. It was delicious. In Barbados they would put it in cane syrup in a crock and leave it for several months to a year. That is sooo delicious , my mouth is watering now that has a unique taste and is no longer found. If I can get some cane syrup I would love to do some. It is difficult to get even though we produce sugar our second industry after Tourism. The sugar produced is for export to Europe for foreign exchange and sold below costs. On the local market we are made to pay high prices for that same sugar. At one time we were importing sugar because there was no local sugar available, and we grow it!! But now I cannot eat as much acid as before and am cutting back on the sweets so I will have to throw them in the compost heap unless I can get some recipes from my friends in the Caribbean, India or Thailand. I see tamarind paste used in Thai cooking as a sour for the sweet and sour. I have tasted the most delicious Tamarind chutney from Trinidad and I would like a recipe. There are also some sweet varieties of Tamarind, I found some in Martinique and boy they were sweet. The flesh was almost black in colour like a dried prune and scrumptious. But of course I had to inherit the "sourest" (if that is a word) tree in the world. The tree itself is old and knarled quite beautiful and is probably over a 150 years old. So folks send or point to me any recipes that you have tried or know of and I am thanking you all in advance.


  1. My mouth is watering at the idea of tamarind balls. No one to give away the tamarinds to?
    I will try to write out the Trinidad tamarind chutney recipe for you-its really simple but I have to figure out the proportions as I make it from "eye".

  2. What a lovely post on our tamarind tree. I love tamarind straight from the pods. Would like very much to fetch a few pads from your overladen tree as I shall be in your area sometime soon. Tamarind balls make lovely gift packets for friends overseas.


  3. Nicole you can send tell me the ingredients you use in the chutney and i will try it by eye and taste. That is how many of us cook so that is not new to me. A little of this and a little of that will do for me LOL.

    Paterika just let me know when you are coming, some of the pods are green and some are mellowry (half ripe) and a few are dry. In a week or two they will be ripe enough to pick. I have a ladder which YOU will be climbing or bring along a agile friend who is not afraid of heights and ants LOL.

  4. This is so wonderful! I just love to find out how edible things grow! I have bought boxes of tamarind here in London just out of curiosity. I have a wonderful recipe for a South African barbecue sauce called 'blatjang' it is mainly dates and tamarind. I will have to find it for you it is wonderful!

  5. That's a lot of tamarind! And for many of the recipes we only use a li'l bit. Here are two recipes which you'll have to try by "eye" and taste.

    Tamarind pickle
    Heat oil and add panch phoran and bay-leaves. Add chilli powder, dhania powder, zeera powder and the tamarind--the ripe ones. The stringy bits need not be removed. ( Children love 'em!)
    Fry for a few minutes then add grated jaggery--the sweetness will depend on taste. Stir till all the ingredients blend well. Cool and bottle. Lasts for a year.

    And here's my favourite chutney. You'll need---

    Two medium sized beet, two onions, mustard seeds, chilli powder or dry chillies, a small ball of tamarind, oil.

    Chop the beet and the onions. Heat oil, about 2tbsps. Add mustard seeds, about half tsp. Add the onions and keep stirring for a few mins. Then add the chopped beet and the chillies. Fry for a few minutes. Remove and put the chutney in the blender. Soak the tamarind, take out the juice and blend into the chutney.
    Goes very well with our rotis.

    Helen, these may not be new to you, but when it comes to tamarind I love this pickle and the chutney.
    Seeing your tamarind tree brought back many childhood memories. My grandparents had a tree and we spent hours on/under the tree having the green ones too, with salt and chopped green chillies. Now the very thought gives me the shivers! Nowadays I prefer the sweet variety from Thailand. My son who loves the sour one tells me...Tamarind should taste like tamarind. I agree but my teeth .....!

  6. Kanak you are a gem!!
    A couple of ingredients I am not too familiar with. What is panch phoran, dhania powder and jaggery? Zeera I think is geera or cumin? I have a bay leaf tree and have lots of cumin powder and seeds.

  7. P. phoran or p. puran is a mix (whole, not ground) of five spices--fenugreek, mustard, nigella, fennel and cumin. Dhania powder is coriander powder. Guess what, when I saw the word 'samosa' in your post I simply assumed you were familiar with these terms!
    Jaggery is a sweetener made from the extract of sugar-cane. In India it is known as 'gur'. The oil used for pickle is mustard--but I don't think you use that in your country?
    This site shows how it's made. The jaggery, I mean.

    I hope you get it there. Or maybe a substitute. Sugar will not produce the same taste. And oh yes, zeera IS geera/jeera. Our magazines and cookbooks also spell it that way:)

  8. Thank you Kanak, I found out that I can use palm sugar. I bought a bottle at the supermarket in the Asian section. nI will certainly check out that site. Thanks alot.


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