Such a romantic-sounding name, so unromantic when you see it, either in the pod, (❶ top), or in the shop. Tamarind is essential as a flavour in Asian food. You buy it, usually, as pulp, pressed into dark brown blocks, labelled ‘tamarind paste’ (❶ bottom). The best way to use it is to make tamarind water.
Break a piece from the block and put in a pan with about 10 times its own weight in water. Heat gently – it doesn’t need to boil – and knead the tamarind with your hand or a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes so that it breaks up and releases its juices. You can, of course, vary the strength by using more or less pulp. Sieve the contents of the pan, discarding the solids. The water will transmit the aromatic sourness of tamarind to whatever you cook with it. It will keep in the fridge for a week.
© 2002 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.