Tamarind, which means “date of India,” is a sweet and sour fruit that possesses a bittersweet tang that is popularly used to spice up Asian, Latin American and Indian cuisine. Tamarinds grow on trees and are native to Africa, but are also widely grown in dryer areas of Asia, Mexico and India. They can be purchased whole in their pods -- which are similar in appearance to green beans, but brown in color -- or in paste or concentrate form. As tamarinds gain in popularity, they are increasingly being used in innovative ways, including as sweet and savory glazes.
Also referred to as the “Manila sweet,” the tamarind injects an exotic, tangy flavor into many sauces and dishes. It can be found in stews and soups, flavoring chutneys and jams as well as condiments like Worcestershire sauce and Jamaican Pickapeppa sauce. It can be enjoyed candied as a sweet snack and as a beverage like the popular Mexican tamarind-based drink, Agua de Tamarindo.
Prepare to Be Glazed
Numerous tamarind glaze recipes exist, and they are easy to customize depending on what ingredients you have readily available or your personal taste preferences. A basic tamarind glaze recipe from Food & Wine includes tamarind pulp, boiling water, honey, Asian fish sauce, minced Thai chiles, minced garlic gloves and salt. While a majority of recipes call for the use of tamarind pastes or concentrates, Food Facts recommends finding and using fresh tamarind pods because processed tamarind products may have an altered nutritional profile. Tamarind pods, pastes and concentrates can all typically be found in the ethnic section or at Mexican and Asian grocery stores.
Glaze It, Glaze It Good
Tamarind glaze is popularly used to coat and flavor many meats and seafood including beef, chicken, pork, lamb, shrimp and even fish like bass and salmon. If you’re not a meat or seafood eater, you can also apply a tamarind glaze to tofu as well as a variety of vegetables including carrots and eggplants. Prepare your glaze before you cook. Brush glaze onto food during the last few minutes of cooking or immediately after you remove it from the heat source.
Homemade tamarind glazes will last for up to one month in the refrigerator, so don’t fret if you have leftovers. Tamarind pods will last up to several months if stored in the refrigerator. Look for the use by date on tamarind pastes and concentrates to determine how long they will keep.
- Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images