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Topic: Tamarind (Imli) (Read 2091 times)
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Curry Spice Master
October 16, 2008, 05:59 PM »
The dark brown bean-shaped pod of the evergreen tamarind tree has been cultivated in India for centuries, hence its other name of 'Indian date'.
Tamarind has a slightly sweet aroma and a pleasant sour, nutty flavour.
Tamarind is generally sold in sticky brown-and-white blocks of partially dried broken pods and pulp, or as a concentrate. Whole pods can sometimes be bought in Indian grocery shops.
It is used as a souring agent in India and Southeast Asia, much like lemon or lime juice is used here in the West.
Tamarind slices or blocks require soaking in warm water for a few minutes, squeezed to extract flavour and strained using a nylon sieve (as the acidic juice will react with metal ones).
In India tamarind is used in curries; sambhars (spiced lentil and vegetable stews); rasams (highly seasoned lentil soups) and chutneys. It is particularly good with fish and poultry dishes. It is also an essential ingredient in Asian hot and sour soups.
Pectin, extracted from the fruit is used for jam and jelly making.
In the west, tamarind is imported for condiments such as Worcester sauce.
Tamarind is a mild laxative, and is used in India as a traditional treatment for dysentery and bowel disorders. It is an antiseptic and used in eye baths and for the treatment of ulcers. Rich in vitamins, tamarind is reputed to be good for the liver and kidneys.
Over-ripe fruits can be used for cleaning copper and brass (tartaric acid).
The leaves of the tree yield red and yellow dyes.
Thought to originate from East Africa it now grows wild in India and is cultivated widely throughout the tropics.
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