In my recent class, a client shared her experience (embarrassed laugh),"I tried to eat a tamarind fruit, I bought in a super market, but it was so difficult to eat and did not taste good either"! The supermarkets don’t give a how-to-use-flyer, so how is anyone supposed to know what to do. “What is tamarind”, is frequently asked in my classes. Yes, google can give you a detailed info but not my personal story.
My tamarind story: I remember when we were kids, my brother and I, along with our parents journeyed by car to the countryside, days on end, spending our summer holidays in south India. On such trips, my parents would point out to us the humongous tamarind trees on the roadside. My dad would park the car at the bottom of a tree and we would climb on top of the car hood to pluck the fresh green tamarind bean-like fruit. It was very sour. A young fruit is edible, as the seeds and fiber are still tender. My mom would dip it in a little salt and chili powder to balance the sourness. Once very ripe, the outer shell gets hard, the pulp inside turns dark, sweet-sour to taste and the seeds and fiber unedible (all 3 pics above).
How to: in India Tamarind is sold in a block form including stones and fiber. To use it for cooking, the pulp is soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then the fruit is squeezed in the water till the stones and fiber separate from the brown pulpy liquid (lots of videos in google). This is now strained through a fine sieve and voila, you have tamarind pulp, which is used in sauces, curries, dessert, drinks and chutneys. Here in Europe, this entire bothersome method can be avoided by just buying a ready-made bottle of tamarind pulp from an Indian/Asian store. So next time you see a tamarind fruit/block in the supermarket, buy it and give it a try. I also use the pulp with a cloth or half a lemon to polish copper and brass things. Works like magic!
Recipe ideas: I use it to make sweet chutneys, for marinating Mackerel fish, meat, add it to Indian Chaat/snacks, in South Indian sauces/curries like sambhar daal, Kerala fish, Madras meat curry or vegetables and goes well with coconut based sauces too. I share here my simple fish recipe. Enjoy.
Meenkari Fisch-Curry aus Sudindien - 2-4 Portionen
400 g Fischfilet, z.B. Kabeljau oder Seelachs
1 EL Zitronensaft
1 TL Salz
- Fisch waschen, trockentupfen und in 3 cm dicke Scheiben schneiden.
- Zitronensaft und Salz beträufeln und beiseitestellen.
1 kleine Zwiebel
200 ml Kokosmilch
½ bis 1 EL Tamarinden Paste
½ EL Currypulver
1 Stängel Zitronengras, zermalmt und gehackt
4 Limettenblätter, in feinen Streifen
4 getrocknet Curryblätter (Option, leider ist frisch in der Schweiz nicht verfügbar)
¼ TL gem. Chili
1 klein grüner Chili, entkernt und fein gehackt
½ TL gem. Bockshornklee (oder 1 TL Samen)
½ TL Salz
- Zwiebel, Tomaten, Zitronengras und grüner Chili grob hacken.
- Alle Zutaten ausser Fisch in einem Topf geben und sanft aufkochen, ca. 10 Minuten.
- Option: Für eine cremige Sauce mit einem Stabmixer grob pürieren.
- Die Fischstücke dazugeben und auf sehr niedrige Hitze, 15 Minuten köcheln lassen. Nicht rühren, vorsichtig der Topf mit 2 Hände schütteln. Warm servieren mit Reis und Pappadoms.