Spotlight Spice: Tamarind Powder

What grows on a tree, is sometimes considered a legume and sometimes a fruit, polishes metal, tenderizes meat and is found in all sorts of foods we eat regularly? It’s tamarind!

The tamarind tree is indigenous to tropical Africa and is the only variety in its species. Because of the wide culinary use of the pulp of its fruit, it’s now cultivated around the world in tropical and sub-tropical areas. India is the largest tamarind producer today and the tree has been around there so long many folks think it’s indigenous to the area.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have probably had tamarind a time or two (or more!). Its bold, tart flavor is commonly used as a souring agent in Indian, Southeastern Asian and Mexican cooking, but it’s a key ingredient in many Worcestershire sauces and is included in some beverages.

At AllSpice, we carry the powdered variety. While we don’t recommend it for polishing your copper, it is a useful ingredient in many culinary applications. Its versatile flavor makes it a nice addition to both sweet and savory dishes. We recommend using it to make traditional sauces and chutneys, as a “secret ingredient” in your blend and rub recipes, to punch up the flavor in BBQ sauces, and as a nice addition to curry dishes.

Ready to experiment? Pick up a jar and give it a try. Need inspiration? Find a few of our favorite recipes using tamarind powder in the AllSpice recipe library.

Image credit: Tamarind by Malcolm Manners – cc – attribution