Tamarind – The Tropical Tree of the Greatest Spice
Some people call tamarind a fruit, while others believe it’s a spice. This medium-sized pod is one of the most used spices in various cuisines. You might be familiar with the word “imli” which is what it’s called in Hindi, in India.
Tamarind has a similar structure to a date. It has a sticky texture, is gummy and has a bold, sour taste. It does not have subdued flavors or a subtle lingering aftertaste. People even think of it is as a sweet-sour candy and eat it raw. You know that puckering feeling you get in your mouth when you eat a lemon? Well, a tamarind tastes exactly like that!
The tamarind trees originated in certain parts of Madagascar and tropical Africa, where they were located in dry deciduous forests. Tamarind has been used in India since its inception, so it stands to reason that people think it originates from there. This is why in the Middle East it is
referred to as Indian date or “Tamar hindi.” The spice is mostly available in dry seasons. The first known tree of tamarind dates back to ancient Greece and Egypt in the 4th Century B.C.
Uses of Tamarind
Tamarind has been a part of several ancient civilizations. It has been and still is used for various medical reasons and culinary purposes. Due to this, tamarind has gained a widely popular reputation in the world. In the rural population, tamarind seeds are roasted and are consumed as a healthy snack. For cuisines, the seeds are soaked in hot water and the pulp is squeezed out for use during cooking
The medicinal uses of tamarind include treatment for diarrhea, peptic ulcers, fever and constipation. Lastly, the tartaric acid in tamarind makes for a good metal polish and it also helps remove stains from bronze and copper.
Benefits of Tamarind
Tamarind is a strong antiseptic solution that helps prevent infections and helps heal wounds. The antimicrobial properties of tamarind are because of the presence of terpenoids, tannins and citric acids.
It aids in weight loss with the presence of the compound Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA). This acid stops the enzyme from aiding storage of fat in the body, it suppresses appetite and increases serotonin secretion.
Treats Bilious Disorders
Tamarind controls irregular bile production that leads to fever and an upset stomach. The pulp of tamarind is a bilious substance that helps regulate gastric juices which dissolves food faster.
Controls Cholesterol Levels
The dietary fibers found in tamarind attach to certain bile salts which are formed from cholesterol. This decreases the salt’s re-absorption and helps remove bad cholesterol. The content of niacin in tamarind raises good cholesterol level.
A simple DIY remedy with tamarind helps regulate bilirubin levels. This chemical is excreted from the liver and is the reason behind the yellowing of the skin, eyes and urine.
* Soothes inflammation
* Purifies blood
* Cures mouth ulcers
* Promotes digestive health
* Improves nerve function
* Helps manage diabetes
* Prevents hair loss
* Cures acne
* Anti-aging agent
* Natural skin moisturizer
And there’s more! Tamarind is an exceptional spice and one way or another you can get all kinds of benefits from eating it and applying its pulp on your skin and hair.
Tamarind Agua Fresca
An Agua Fresca is a light, non-alcoholic drink made from flowers, fruits, cereals, sugar or seeds. The drink is quite popular in the US and Mexico. So, try out this light recipe to reap the benefits of tamarind.
* Water: 6 cups
* Tamarind concentrate: 1/6 cup
* White sugar: 1/3 cup
* Orange (sliced): 1
* Lime (sliced): 1
* Combine sugar, tamarind concentrate and water in a pitcher
* Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves
* Squeeze a slice of orange into the mixture
* Add ice cubes in the pitcher and allow it to chill for a few minutes
* In a glass, add ice cubes and squeeze a little lemon juice on top
* Pour the mixture into the glass and garnish with an orange slice
Enjoy your drink!