What is Tamarind?
Tamarind gets its name from the Persian term "tamar-I-hind," meaning "date of India." Tamarind is one of the most diverse ingredients, you can use tamarind in both savoury and sweet dishes and you’ll come across it is a core ingredient in Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Latin and Caribbean cooking. But you’ll probably most distinctively know it as one of the key spices in Pad Thai, or on the other hand as one of the key ingredients in Worcestershire sauce.
The flavour that tamarind brings to a dish is unique it is sour taste with both a citrusy and smokey hints making it a rather complex flavour.
What part of the plant do you eat?
Tamarind paste which is most commonly used in Australia is the paste from the seed pods of the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica L.) that are grown in Indian and in parts of Africa like Madagascar. The dark red fruits are removed from the pods, 3-12 fruits per pod, deseeded, dehydrated and then made into a paste. Tamarind is a part of the Fabaceae family, meaning that it is a relative of peas and beans.
Tamarind has been known for its many medicinal uses for many years. Some of tamarinds health benefits include:
- High in vitamin C which not only helps with immunity and fevers but it also helps alleviate sunstroke.
- Gut health: helps ease stomach pain and promotes bowel movements
- Inflammation: helps with swollen joints and conjunctivitis
Where to buy Tamarind?
Store it in an airtight container in a cool dark spot in your kitchen.
Cooking with tamarind
Here are a couple of our favourite New Idea Food recipes that feature tamarind.
Tamarind and coconut fish
Lightly pan-fried fish with a tamarind paste and coconut milk make this a wonderful mid-week dish for two. Get the full recipe.
Seared beef & papaya salad with tamarind soy dressing
Papaya pairs well with beef, prawns or pork in Asian salads. The punchy tamarind dressing and crispy onions tie it all together for an exotic one-dish meal.
Fish curry with tomatoes and tamarind
This fish curry with tomatoes and tamarind is a super easy recipe, ready in 30 minutes but is packed with fantastic flavours. It's perfect for a midweek meal. Get the full recipe.
Tamarind eggplant with black rice, mint & feta
Aim to impress vegetarian dinner party guests with a modern meat-free main, flavoured with tangy tamarind paste, chilli and sesame seeds.
Tamarind prawn curry
This prawn curry is ready in under half an hour. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Perfect Pad Thai
Toss plump prawns and beansprouts with rice noodles in this authentic, yet quick and easy version of a takeaway favourite.
Scallops with coconut, eschalot and Thai basil salad
Coconut scallops are topped with a Thai basil, chilli & coriander salad, then drizzled with a galangal, palm sugar & garlic dressing – cocktail hour ready.