Category: 

What Is Tamarind?

Tamarind paste is sometimes used to impart a slightly sour edge to South Asian curries.
Tamarind is a fruit tree native to Africa, and grows well in a tropical environment.
Article Details
  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Waking up in the middle of the night is normal for humans.  more...

October 31 ,  1984 :  Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was assassinated.  more...

Tamarind is a fruiting tree native to Africa and widely planted throughout the world, particularly in Latin America and Asia. The fruit is used as a food crop and as a flavoring ingredient in a wide range of foods, especially Latin American and Asian cuisine and pre-packaged snacks. It is also sometimes known as asam or puli.

The tamarind tree can grow in excess of 60 feet (20 meters) in most tropical climates. Although best suited for tropical climates with a dry season, it can also do well in high-rainfall tropical environments. It is cultivated widely for its use as a food, requiring little fertilization or upkeep to thrive.

The pulp of the fruit is the main portion of tamarind used in food production. When still slightly unripe, it has a very sharp, sour taste with a high level of acidity. Unripe fruit is used in many candies and dishes throughout Asia and Latin America. The popularity of tamarind candies in the United States and Europe is considerably less, due to a general trend towards sugary-sweet candies.

When riper, tamarind becomes much sweeter and may be used in preparing a number of different desserts or sweet drinks. It is also used as a spice in curries, for which purpose it is particularly popular in parts of India. Although not native to India, the plant was introduced from Africa so long ago that many people consider it a native species, and its staple place in the diet reflects this.

Ad

Although not terribly common in European and American cuisine, tamarind still sees some use. Worcestershire sauce is perhaps the most well-known product that uses the fruit, and it plays an integral part in creating the sauce’s unique taste. There also seems to be an expanding market for it in general cooking, with packets of tamarind sauce becoming more readily available in mainstream grocery stores in the United States.

In addition to the use of the pulp as a food crop, other parts of the tree are used for medicinal purposes throughout the world. The bark and leaves, for example, may be made into teas with a wide range of uses, most notably as an herbal treatment for malaria-induced fever.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon87217
Post 1

Like what I read, very interesting. Keep up the good work.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email