Sweet and Tangy Tamarind Syrup
Tamarind is a tree that grows long, edible pods. The pods contain seeds that look like shiny, black beads. The paste that grows around the seeds is used in many countries to make tamarind syrup. Tamarind is also used to add a sour taste to food, and to give food that distinct tamarind flavor. Tamarind can also be eaten as a snack, especially if you enjoy sour flavors. Just ask eight year old Hilda, as it was one of my favorite snacks. I also enjoyed sucking on lemons, and eating sour salt/citic acid. What can I say, they didn’t have sour gummy worms back then. Now you can just purchase tamarind candy. I feel cheated!
Tamarind can be purchased in a variety of forms. Fresh tamarind pods are readily available in most ethnic markets. Many stores carry the dried tamarind pods in their spice section. The dried pods need to be rehydrated in warm water. Once softened, the shell and stringy parts can be discarded, and the dark paste retained for eating, or cooking with. You also have the option of purchasing the paste that’s ready to eat. I prefer the paste because it’s so much more convenient.
You may not realize it, but tamarind is used to make a variety of drinks. In fact, my favorite margarita flavor is tamarindo. I also love the tamarindo-flavored Jarritos Mexican soft drink. In the Middle East, it is used to make a tamarind syrup concentrate that’s diluted with ice water to make a delicious and very refreshing drink. As usual, my recipe has a little twist; I like to add dried limes to further enhance the flavor. Dried limes are also used in the Middle East for cooking and in drinks. But let’s leave that for another post…