A favorite ingredient of chefs throughout the world, Tamarind is an interesting fruit, widely used as a spice. Fresh tamarind tastes sweet, but once it matures the secretion of tartaric acid makes it sour.
The symbiosis of sweet and sour gives this fruit a place in a vast array of culinary dishes. The best part about tamarind is it goes well with almost everything. Mix it with a salad or a meat dish or even a dessert to bring out an authentic Asian tang to your dish.
The taste of tamarind is extremely powerful and unique. A small portion goes a long way in making your dish exciting. It goes well with other spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom and anise. Aromatics herbs like garlic, ginger, chilies, parsley and coriander can be used along with tamarind. Be sure never to mix onion as they don’t really taste well together.
It has a huge influence on Southeast-Asian cooking, especially in India, where it is used as a base ingredient for chutneys and spicy appetizers. The soul of the notoriously famous “panipuri” or “gol-gappa”, famous in India, is tamarind. Chutney is another classic creation, which basically means sauce and is served with a plethora of other dishes. Here is a wonderful recipe filled with a dash of surprise, Tamarind sweet and spicy chutney.
1. 1/2 cup Tamarind paste. (You can buy it directly at an Asian supermarket or make it yourself at home).
2. 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
3. 1 small clove of garlic, crushed to a paste.
4. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Vary it according to your spice quotient)
5. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder. (You can skip it if it’s not available)
6. 1 tablespoon canola oil.
7. 1 cup brown sugar.
8. 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar.
1. Heat the vinegar, along with canola oil and brown sugar in a pan over low heat. The low heat slowly caramelizes the sugar to a nice thick consistency. The vinegar acts as a catalyst in this process while the oil forms a nice base.
2. Add ginger, garlic and asafoetida powder. Cook for about 2 minutes adding water if necessary.
3.Next add the rest of the spices along the tamarind paste.Add water if the sauce is too thick, or simply boil it down if you want it thick.
4. Let it cool down after which you can strain it down to a nice home-made sauce.
5. Serve it with baked meat, fish or any deep fried dish. Alternatively, you can also use it in a salad or use it to make a spicy drink.
Tamarind is not only a sweet surprise unique to itself but also easily available. You can find in most grocery stores or any Asian specialty store. There is also the option of buying it online, where you get to choose from a variety of different tamarinds. Try out this oriental sauce to fill your palate with exotic flavors. You can store this sauce in a refrigerator for about two weeks. It’s very versatile to use this and it can be added to a variety of dishes. Once you understand this exciting fruit you can let your imagination run wild. Enjoy!
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