I visited my cousins this weekend. We haven't seen each other for over 8 years. They invited us over and as I wrote last week, we need to include family and friends into our lives more. here's my chance. In this case we haven't visited for quite some time so to be true to the comments, we went. Even though we have had conversations about visiting, it just got lost behind all of the everyday goings on of life. We had a great time and realized how much we've missed out on. This was trulya treat!
As we sat around visiting, I saw my cousin fumbling around with this little brown thing between her fingers. I watched as she cracked the object by pressing it between her fingers, pulled some of the fruit off and put it in her mouth. I asked her what it was and she said Tamarind. Wow Tamarind, I said. I haven't seen this in years. She offered me some and I gladly accepted and took them home.
This was very good and timely for me.
As I put together the Plaza Chronicles, I thought I would include a segment or a post called mystery fruit or vegetable. I thought of doing this because I see a few items that are unique or rare or new to me and I thought I would share and perhaps discuss with you. So this is a real excellent opportunity to get this idea off the scratch pad.
So I arranged my fruit on a plate for the shots and did some Internet research for details for you. This is a picture of the flowering of the fruit and other pictures from wikipedia.
Like the mangoes I wrote about recently, tamarind is a tropical fruit that has many uses. Tamarind is originally from East Africa and was introduced so many years ago to India and has become known as the Indian date. It is widely available in the tropics. The tamarind was also introduced to the Egyptians and Greeks in the 4Th century and the Greeks named it finger.
Tamarind is said to belong to the bean family and looks something like a snow pea but thicker with the 'bean' much bigger. When ripe it is dark brown and the pod becomes hard but can be cracked easily with your fingers. The bean has a thin covering which is the meat of the tamarind and covers a hard black seed.
Tamarind is eaten when dry or ripened to a dark brown color and can be sweet, and sour and is quite acidic.
It is eaten right out of its shell or made into a paste and can be reconstituted with water. Tamarind is used as spice to flavor many dishes and also made into drinks, including Asian specialities. The leaves are used for medicines and the fruit also has other uses including some household chores. Fortunately, the ones I got from my cousin were very sweet, not at all tart or sour.
Tamarinds are available now in many stores and in the farmers markets or organic food stores. I like it straight out ot the shell! You may be enjoying it in some of your favorite dishes or drinks or jst like me, natural. If not you should try it too, its great!
For those of you who know the tamarind and have a special or favorite recipe for it please share it with us.