The tamarind tree is a known hardwood tree and a tropical plant known scientifically as Tamarindus indica. Tamarind, as a fruit, is used as an additive flavor in cooking. Harvested from the brown, crescent-shaped pods of the tamarind tree, the sticky pulp inside is removed from around the seeds. Also known as tamarindo and Indian date, tamarind is high in tartaric acid which adds a tart, sweet, or sour taste to dishes and drinks.
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What Does Tamarind Taste Like?
The taste of tamarind ranges from sweet and sour to a tangy and tart flavor, often depending on the other ingredients it is mixed with. For example, sweet ingredients, like sugar, can take the edge off of sour tamarind flavors. Taste can also depend on how ripe the fruit is. The less ripe a tamarind is, the sourer the taste. As it matures and ripens, tamarinds get sweeter.
5 main health benefits of tamarind
The pulp of tamarind is rich in numerous phytonutrients that act as potent dietary antioxidants and can enhance the efficacy of the body’s natural immune defenses.
Being rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, tamarind has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.
Tamarind fruit extract has been shown to provide a protective effect for the liver, as it contains antioxidants called procyanidins that counter free radical damage to the liver.
Natural compounds present in tamarind extract have the potential of being used as a natural antimicrobial against pathogenic microorganisms.
The anti-inflammatory effect of tamarind seed extract has been shown to offer potential protective benefits and improve blood sugar regulation in those with diabetes.
Ukwaju in Malindi
Tamarind, famously known as ukwaju in Swahili is used to garnish in food preparations within the coastal region; Malindi being one of them. It is made into a chilly spiced sauce for Viazi Karai. It can be added to stews and curry to create an almost sour taste. It is also used to make juice ya ukwaju whose additions of sugar, ginger, and cardamom in the ingredients of making it adds a flavor that is soothing.
Where to Buy Tamarind
It can be bought raw or as a sauce. 250ml of tamarind sauce goes for Ksh 150, this is sold locally. A ¼ kg of tamarind is sold at grocery markets worth Ksh 50.
Foods you can make with Tamarind
- Ukwaju sauce
- Tamarind Juice
- Tamarind Chicken ( Kuku wa ukwaju)