Tamarind Drink

Puha

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    16

    servings ( ½ gallon )

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

I once spent a pleasant afternoon in Tamale, northern Ghana with the industrious Mrs. Comfort Awu Akor and her daughter, Amadu George Shetu, learning to make a popular tamarind drink known by the Hausa word “puha.” Comfort made it in commercial quantities (over 13 gallons) to sell from her home in little plastic bags chilled or frozen, but I have modified the recipe. She used Ashanti pepper but you can use other peppercorns if you cannot find it.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (125 grams) packaged tamarind (without salt)
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns (or 1 teaspoon Ashanti peppercorns/masoro, if available)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ground or grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • 2 cups sugar (or to taste)

Method

Directions

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, turn off the heat, and add the tamarind. Stir to break it up and then let steep for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. After the tamarind has steeped, use clean hands to squeeze it thoroughly to remove the pulp from the seeds.
  3. Lightly toast the peppercorns on medium heat for a minute or two in a small frying pan. Crush the peppercorns and cloves using a mortar and pestle.
  4. Set a large strainer over another bowl, and pour the tamarind mixture into it, shaking it and using your hand to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the mixture. In several batches, pour 3 cups of fresh water through the strainer, pressing on the solids to extract juices. Discard the solids in the strainer.
  5. Put 3 more cups of water into an empty bowl and add the crushed pepper and cloves and the ginger. Stir them and let them soak in the water for 10 minutes.
  6. Using a tea strainer, strain the water with the spices into the tamarind mixture. Discard the spice mixture.
  7. Strain the mixture one last time, then put a few cups of the tamarind mixture into a bowl and add about cups of sugar (in Ghana they likely use more sugar to make a sweeter drink than I prefer, so add to your taste). Mix it until the sugar dissolves, then add it back into the bowl with the other tamarind mixture and taste for sweetness and adjust as needed.

To serve

Chilled puha makes a refreshing drink, which people claim has various health benefits. However, my favorite way to serve puha is to freeze it into small cubes and use it as a palate cleanser between dinner courses.

Variation

It is also possible to buy tamarind concentrate, which would eliminate the first two steps.