Eat & Drink
Originally published on Sunday, 11th January 2009
Rosie Loves: Tamarind
I’d never quite known what to do with tamarind, only aware that it’s the clincher in a Pad Thai. Not now though. Here’s how to master the tamarind trick and really give the right sour kick to both your Indian and Asian dishes.
I spent NYE with some of my best ladies and it was perfect. We cosied up, drank copious quantities of red wine, cooked up an Indian storm of monsoon heights, and were still around the kitchen table come 6am. And the wonderful Dr Helen even made real tamarind paste. I’d never quite known what to do with tamarind, only aware that it’s the clincher in a Pad Thai. Not now though.
After our new year merriment I was left with a small mountain of the stuff, so decided to truly master the tamarind trick and it really does give a sour kick to both Indian and Asian dishes. The way to best use it though is to equally temper with either sugar or honey to get the perfect sweet-and-sour tingly miracle.
If you are as conscientious as Dr Helen, then start by tracking down the gnarly bone-like fruit, which usually can be found vacuum packed in a little brick (I’m blessed, as ever, because it’s easy to find in Brixton market). Simply re-hydrate it in boiling water, and then press through a sieve until you have the thick paste that will crown any sour Dal or noodle dish.
However, if you are not quite as mad as us lot, then you can buy a concentrate from most Asian stores – but make sure you use it more sparingly than the fresh variety. See www.spicesofindia.co.uk where Maggi make a tamarind syrup (though with added sugar). There’s also have the TRS tamarind paste, which is super dark and unctuous. But, the satisfaction you’ll get from making your own will make it well worth the extra effort. Well, that was my thought. Until Helen found an old pot of tamarind paste lurking at the back of my fridge and cursed me for the rest of the night…
For tonnes of tamarind recipes do check out my friend Mallika’s blog www.quickindiancooking.com, full of Indian inspiration and gratefully also searchable by ingredient. And of course, then there’s my own delicious Sweet and Sour Tamarind Dal. Even if I do say so myself.