Tamarind: Tropical Fruit with Advantages

The Tale of the Tamarind

Tamarind is a tropical fruit, native to Africa but also grows in India, Pakistan and many other tropical regions. It grows from a hardwood tree with bean-like pods, inside is a fibrous pulp with seeds. The pulp is green and sour which later ripens into a juicy, sweet-sour paste. Somewhat like Arabian dates, sometimes it’s called the ‘date of India’.

The tamarind is a versatile fruit – it is used for cooking, as snacks, also for medicinal purposes. South and Southeast Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and the Caribbean use tamarind in many of their dishes, including their edible seeds and leaves. It is used in sauces, marinades, chutneys, drinks and desserts.

As far as traditional medicine goes, the tamarind was commonly used to treat diarrhea, constipation, fever and peptic ulcers. The fruit’s bark and leaves were said to promote wound healing. Modern research is trying to find out if it also has medicinal value.

Tamarind contains polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The extract from its seeds also help lower blood sugar, while the pulp extract may help in body weight reduction and reverse fatty liver disease.

Every 120 gm (or 1 cup) of tamarind pulp provides the following Recommended Daily Intake of nutrients, thus: 34% of vitamin B1, 28% of magnesium, 22% of potassium, and 19% of iron. There’s also considerable amounts of phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, and calcium. There are also trace amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B5, copper and selenium. However, the fruit may be considered high in calories, with the same one cup containing 287 calories, almost all of which are from sugar. Hence, it may not be the fruit for those who want to lose weight. Nonetheless, tamarind pulp is a fruit, and not to be considered as added sugar.

Tamarind is also a cooking companion. It can be used to make condiments like chutney, or mixed with sugar to make candy, or instead of lemon, use this fruit to add a sour note to savory dishes. Additionally, frozen, unsweetened pulp or sweetened tamarind syrup is always handy in the kitchen.

Taste of Tamarind in Bellevue

Dine healthy at Spice Route in Bellevue and enjoy some of our classics laced with tamarind. Love our kolumbu and karakolumbu vegetarian mains, healthy options with that sweet-sour flavor.