In India, the belief is that a pregnant woman has craving to eat something sour and sweet! Generally, that something sour and sweet is either mango or tamarind. Mango is a popular fruit. What about tamarind? In Asian countries especially in Southern part of India, use of tamarind in daily dish is necessary.
Tamarind is a very large tree with heavy drooping branches and green foliage. It is indigenous to South Africa but grows extensively in India. Tree bears curved fruit pods in abundance.
Each pod has hard outer shell inside which we see soft pulp – green fibrous in young fruit and brown fibrous in mature fruits. Seeds and pulps are held together by fiber network!
Tamarind has many medicinal properties:
- Tamarind fruits juice or extract acts as mild laxative. It has tartaric acid. One to two tablespoons of the pulp in evening can improve bowel movements. It is a source of good dietary fiber.
- Tamarind is very useful to treat bilious disorders. Being acidic, it excites the bile and other juices in the body.
- Tamarind leaves are used in herbal tea for reducing malaria fever, treating jaundice and ulcers.
- Tamarind lowers LDL cholesterol level in the body and helps in promoting healthy heart. Dilute tamarind decoction can help in destroying the stomach worms in children.
- Tamarind protects from Vitamin C deficiency.
- Tamarind heals the inflammation of the skin to great extent.
- Juice extracted from tamarind flowers are used for treating piles
It is rich source of various minerals – Cu, K, Ca, Fe, Se. Zn and Mg
Controls pregnancy related vomiting & nausea.
In next few slides, you will see culinary use of tamarind.
When we were growing up, we used to ask mother for tamarind candy. It is delicious and easy to prepare- Tamarind, jaggery or sugar with little salt and chilli powder is mixed thoroughly, rolled into small balls – attached to an ice-cream stick. It looks like lollipop. Nevertheless, the taste is out of the world! Once a while when kids are constipated giving a small piece of home-made tamarind candy helps. It acts as laxative and increases bowel movement. Even for adults this is a good laxative.
It is a rice dish popular in South Indian states -Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Tamil nadu & Kerala. Many temples offer this tamarind rice as “prasadam” to devotees. Main ingredients : tamarind paste, groundnuts or peanuts, coriander, coconut, red chilli, curry leaves, jaggery, pepper, mustard seeds, fenugreek, turmeric, asafetida, urad dal, sesame and cumin.
Tamarind has tartaric acid and also some amount of sugar. If one feels nausea or vomiting drinking tamarind mild juice can help to get rid of the symptom. Also, tamarind juice -slightly concentrated acts as laxative. Two types of tamarind juices are – green (raw) fruit and brown pulp juices. Green tamarind juice is slightly sourer. One can add salt and jaljeera (cumin powder with salt, pepper etc) to the juice and drink.
SAAMBAR AND VATHA KOZHAMBU
The main ingredient of both spicy dishes is tamarind. In sambar vegetables, lentils and spices are cooked in tamarind water along with turmeric. It is good for the digestive system and reduces accumulation of gas. Sambar is served with main dishes like rice, idlis, dosa etc.
Vatha kozhambu is a sour, spicy dish that has tamarind as main ingredient. It is a specialty of Tamil Nadu. For seasoning curry leaves, sundakkai (Turkey berry) and any other vegetables can be added. Vathal means sun dried vegetable. The sundakkai vathal have diuretic properties, and are used in bowel complaints and for reducing fever.
TAMARIND RASAM & TAMARIND SAUCE
Rasam is Indian version of soup. Tamarind rasam has tamarind as main ingredient with asafetida, tomato (optional), turmeric, lentils, pepper, red & green chillis, cilantro or coriander leaves, salt and garlic (optional). It brings back the appetite during or after fever and is good for indigestion.
The base of tamarind sauce is the pulp of the tamarind fruit, either as a paste, as a juice, or as a concentrate. The flavor of tamarind sauce is both sweet and sour. In addition to being part of complex dishes, tamarind sauce can be used by itself as a dipping sauce for appetizers. One can add date, pepper and other spices to make tamarind sauce -sour, sweet and spicy. It goes well with Indian chats – pav bhaji, golgappa, puffed rice chats, samosas, pappad and other appetizers. It is a most common item on tables of Indian restaurant.
PULIYINJI & THOKKU
Puliyinji is nothing but tamarind and ginger chutney. It is a sweet and sour sauce made by simmering fried ginger (inji) in jaggery and tamarind (puli) sauce. Puliyinji is also known as Inji Curry in some regions of Kerala. Puliyinji can be refrigerated and stored for a long time. It is served as pickle. This aids digestive system and during festival it is a belief that eating puliyinji before and after meals helps in heavy food digestion.
Thokku is nothing but green (immature) tamarind fruit chutney. This is yummy chutney and can be mixed with rice or taken as side pickle with yogurt rice, roti or with sandwich bread. Main ingredients are raw tamarind, salt, green chillis, red chillis, little turmeric, salt, asafetida seasoned with mustard, curry leaves. It can be stored for longtime in refrigerator.
EGG PLANT & BABY POTATO IN TAMARIND SAUCE
Small round Indian egg plants are cooked in delicious tamarind sauce combined with various spices is a delicacy of Indian cuisine. Spices stuffed in eggplant (turmeric, spices, salt, and onion) and cooked in tamarind sauce in oil is a good dish for roti, chapatti, parota and rice.
Similarly baby potatoes roasted in tamarind sauce and chilli powder with salt and other spices is a favorite dish of many. This is easy to prepare and the taste is slightly differs from regular potato curry because of slight tamarind taste.
Image courtesy: http://www.secretlyhealthy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Tamarind.jpg