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Kerala Spices

      Tamarind

      Tamarind

      -The sweet and sour fruit

      Tamarind also known as Indian date, the tamarind is the sweet and sour fruit of a tall shade tree native to Asia and northern Africa and widely grown in India. The tamarind trees flourishes in the tropical regions.

      The large (about 5-inch-long) pods contain small seeds and a sour-sweet pulp that, when dried, becomes extremely sour. Tamarind brings an acidic zing to food. It is a much-valued food ingredient in many Asian and Latin American recipes.

      Extraction Process and uses
      The dried tamarind is obtained after removing the rind from the mature, ripe and dried fruit of Tamarindus indica.

      It is then compressed into cakes. This spice also comes in the forms of pulp and juice concentrates which mainly go into the preparation of cool drinks, seafoods and a range of sophisticated cuisine. The pulp of a young fruit is very sour, and hence suitable for main dishes, whereas a ripened fruit is sweeter and can be used in desserts, drinks, or as a snack.

      Culinary usage
      Its taste goes well with meat and vegetable dishes, it merges well with the heat of chilies and gives South Indian dishes their hot and sour character and their dark colour. The Juice of dry Tamarind are adequate to add a touch of sourness in the curry. It is extensively used in south indian cuisine and is normally used as a replacement for tomatoes. It is used to prepare Sambhar (spicy lentil soup with lots of vegetables), Pulihora rice, and various types of chutneys.Tamarind is also very effective as a natural preservative and marinade.

      Medicinal Applications/Properties
      Tamarind is a multi-purpose herb.Almost all parts of it can be used; beans, seeds, pulp, leaves, flowers, juice and bark.There are two types of Tamarind beans; one is smaller in size, has a red colored pulp when ripe and has smaller seeds, while the other is longer, has a brownish pulp when ripe and has bigger seeds. The former is the type of tamarind that is used in medicine.
      It is used as a digestive, laxative, tonic, and astringent. It is favored for wound treatment, sore throat, urinary problems, gonorrhea, ulcers, liver disease and so on.Tamarind is acidic and excites the bile and other juices in the body. Tamarind is also a blood purifier. Folk medicine uses Tamarind leaves for sprains and swelling.

      Other uses
      Tamarind wood can be used for various purposes.Due to its denseness and durability, tamarind heartwood can be used in making furniture and wood flooring. The wood is a beautiful red timber.Tamarind is also recommended as a polish for brass and copper.

      Associated Names
      Indian Name: Imli, Amla, Huli, Hunise mara, Puli, Imbli, Tintiri, Tintiddii. Puli(Malayalam-Kerala).

      About the tree
      Tamarindus indica is the only species of the genus Tamarindus in the family Fabaceae. The tree grows up to 20 meters in height, and stays evergreen in regions without a dry season.

      Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood.

      The leaves consist of 10 to 40 leaflets. The flowers are produced in racemes.

      The tree produces brown pod-like fruits, which contain pulp and many hard-coated seeds.

      The seeds can be scarified to enhance germination.

      Seedless tamarind comes under two varieties - Light red to tinged brown color tamarind and Black color or mixed color variety of special grade.

      Found around
      Tamarind trees are very common in South India particularly in Andhra Pradesh.They are used to provide shade on the country roads.

      Harvesting Season
      The harvesting season of tamarind is mainly during March and April.

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