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It wasn’t until I visited Thailand that I first saw fresh tamarind fruits hanging from great trees. My guide picked one of the pods and split the brown outer shell to reveal the brown sticky, date like fruit inside. Until then I had only ever used tamarind in its pre packed solid form, which can be found in most Asian greengrocers.

Tamarind Pods

Tamarind is a tropical tree, which is native to East Africa but has long been established in South East Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. It is widely used in Asian cookery and in particular the food of Thailand and India where its principle use is as a souring agent in curries and soups. The fruit is mixed with water and worked with the fingers to distribute the fruit in the water. Tamarind contains stones so the liquid must be passed through a sieve and the remaining liquid is used as for lemon or limejuice.

As the fruits are uncommon in the West the pulp, which is bought in block form, is the best alternative. The fruits are sun dried and then processed, they keep remarkably well in the refrigerator.

Content and picture © Miles Collins