Hi again, today I want to touch upon one of the most remarkable, amazing fruits on Earth. It grows on a tree, and produces fruits that come naturally in pods. Although originally grown and consumed only in Asia and some parts of Africa, now it’s being grown in many countries around the world…it is Tamarind.
I find it in my local grocery stores these days, although not long ago, I had to go to Indian/Asian markets to find them. The American grocery stores usually have them unprocessed…the raw pods with shells. Indian stores have them in various forms…blocks, paste, raw, juice and hybrid forms. Unfortunately, most Americans just give it a glimpse and move on because they don’t know what it is, what to do with it, and how to consume it. Well, here I present you some reasons why this is something you should consume regularly and HOW to consume it. These are not any recipes per se, but simple ways to prepare it and reap its plethora of benefits.
Here’s how the pods look like off the tree (with shells on):
Here’s a block of tamarind pulp:
Here’s a jar of paste from the pulp, seedless and ready to use for anything:
Let’s start with its properties…
Health Benefits of Tamarind
Tamarind fruit contains certain health benefiting essential volatile chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.
Its sticky pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin, and tannins. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby help protect the colon mucosa from cancer-causing chemicals.
Also, dietary fibers in the pulp bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their reabsorption in the colon; thereby help in expulsion of “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.
While lemon composes citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives the sour taste to food besides its intrinsic activity as a potent antioxidant. (Antioxidant E-number is E334). It, thus, helps the human body protect from harmful free radicals.
Tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine, and alkylthiazoles. Together, these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.
This prized condiment spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
Further, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant as well as co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism in the human body.
Medicinal uses of Tamarind
Its pulp has been used in many traditional medicines as a laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders.
This spice condiment is also used as an emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc., in different pharmaceutical products.
- In Bahamas, people fry the tamarinds in coal fire until the pod shells pop open and they eat it as a snack.
- In SE Asia, people eat them raw with salt and red pepper, cook with them for adding flavor and mentioned benefits, or just eat its juice.
- The leaves and seeds are also edible and has beneficial properties but you’ll need to research those more as I haven’t tried them.
I use either raw ones with shells on, or a block (with minimal seeds and no shells) of the pulp. If you get the raw with shells on, peel off the shells and only put the pulps from inside into the pan. Seeds are ok, they’ll separate as you boil them in water.
Ideally, I like to use the blocks…I put in about half a block at a time in a pan and boil it for 15 mins in water. Well, in the water I actually add some things to make it more palatable since it’s naturally very sour. I add: Sugar, salt, pepper, sometimes even some cumin (cumin has great benefits worth its own article by the way) seeds. Just add in small amounts and taste to your liking.
Once its boiled in water, you want to use the juice for drinking straight once cooled. Once or twice daily in a regular cup. Be careful though, overdoing it will send you to bathroom often although it’ll surely clear up your digestive system!
To extract just the juice, I use some mesh or net so that the pulp remains or seeds or shells, can be easily separated. Here’s what I use:
Amounts and optional additives: From 1/3 of a 14oz block of tamarind paste, I make about 16oz of juice. I usually would throw in a teaspoon of cumin, and about 8 cloves…for their own benefits and also for taste.
You may also be interested in my article on Cumin…
There are plenty of articles out there about Tamarind, some I found useful are below…