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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Tamarindus indica Leguminosae East Africa

In various Asian languages, tamarind is known simply as 'acid', for its strong sour and acid-like taste. Native to Africa, tamarind made its way to India, where it became a mainstay ingredient and popular souring agent.

Tamarind plays an important role in Hindu mythology as it was supposedly used during the god Krishna's wedding. Tamarind was an ingredient in a refreshing, sweet drink consumed by ancient Egyptians and evidence of tamarind has been found in Egyptian burial tombs. Currently in Egypt 'tamr hindi', an acidic chilled drink is popular in summertime.

The tamarind tree is a tall evergreen that produces bean-like pods. Unripe pods are green and are sometimes used in sour soup dishes. The ripe pods are brown and are slightly sweeter, though still tart and acid-like. The pods contain a sticky pulp that smells fruity and contains brown seeds that are removed before the pulp is dried and compressed and sold as paste or pods. Sometimes the paste is dried and salted, or even candied. Unripe, green pods are sold in brine. The pulp is sometimes made into a syrup.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Tamarind is a natural refrigerant and as a result is said to be a good home remedy for fevers. It is also a natural digestive aid and an antiseptic. The pulp, leaves and bark all claim medicinal benefit.

Historically, tamarind has been used to:

  • Reduce malaria fever
  • Aid digestion
  • As a carminative
  • Relieve gastric problems
  • As an anti-oxidant
  • As an astringent
  • Relieve sore throat
  • Relieve pain from stomach ulcers
  • Reduce blood pressure

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Mostly used as a souring agent, tamarind can often be found in jams, jellies, chutney and Worcestershire sauce. It is popular in South Indian cuisine where it is commonly added to curies, especially those containing lentils. Soak tamarind pulp in hot water for a few minutes, making sure to press and squeeze it into a paste and then strain. Do not use the fibrous husk.  Food for thought:

  • Add tamarind to homemade chutney or jam
  • Add tamarind syrup to soft drinks or sparkling water
  • Add tamarind to lentil curry
  • Substitute tamarind for vinegar or lemon juice
  • Add tamarind to soups or stews
  • Tamarind pairs well with pork dishes
  • Add tamarind to salad dressings that use fruit vinegars

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