Tamarind is, in fact, gluten-free. It is a suitable ingredient for people with celiac disease or another form of gluten sensitivity. When tamarind is used as an ingredient in other dishes or sauces, it’s best to read the ingredients for that specific product to ensure it’s gluten-free as well.
What Is Tamarind?
Tamarind is actually a legume that is grown on the tamarind tree. Tamarind is most commonly found in the Caribbean, India, Mexico, and Thailand, and is therefore a common ingredients in these cuisines. The tamarind tree was originally found only in Africa, but the trees have since been brought to tropical climates where they also flourish.
When a tamarind is plucked from the tree, the sticky “fruit” is within a seed pod. Sometimes, you can purchase tamarind in the pod or pre-sliced into chunks.
What Is Tamarind Used For?
Tamarind is often used as a component in sauces or pastes to enhance the flavor of a variety of dishes. It adds sweetness or tartness depending on its ripeness, and the texture and flavor is similar to a date. This is why it’s often referred to as the Indian date.
The tamarind fruit is most often seen in tamarind pastes, sauces, or concentrates.
What Does Tamarind Taste Like?
The best way to describe the flavor profile of tamarind is sweet and sour. It tends to amp up the sweetness of a dish or the tartness of a dish, all depending on what other ingredients are within it. A tamarind also gets sweeter as it continues to ripen.
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What Is Tamarind Paste?
Tamarind paste is made by taking the tamarind fruit and softening it up, making it much more flexible to work with while cooking. It’s very easy to make.
All you have to do is extract the fruit from the pod and let it sit in hot water for a half hour. After it has sat in the hot water, you will pick up the mixture and strain it using a sieve to get rid of any fiber or leftover seeds.
You can then form it into a block, which is how it’s found in stores, and store it in the fridge to make it last as long as possible.
What Is Tamarind Concentrate?
Tamarind concentrate is also a paste made from the tamarind fruit, but it’s stored in a plastic container and kept in its jelly-like form. When purchasing tamarind concentrate at a store, it’ll typically contain added sugar, salt, and water.
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What Types Of Dishes Is Tamarind Used In?
Tamarind is commonly used as an additive to marinades, as it complements a variety of meats nicely. It’s also used in a lot of Indian dishes, such as curries, to complement other common spices used within curries. It mixes very well with coconut milk, as the milk helps to mute the sourness of the tamarind.
Tamarind is also one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce, as well as one of the main ingredients in the sauce used for pad thai.
Are There Any Health Benefits To Tamarind?
Tamarind has a lot of fantastic health benefits. The fruit is high in vitamins B and C, and is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. Tamarind also contains polyphenols and flavanoids, which show promise towards promoting good heart health and healthy cholesterol levels.
While the sugar content in tamarind is natural sugar, it’s best to limit your consumption of tamarind if you struggle with blood sugar issues.
Nutritional Profile Of Tamarind
The following nutritional facts are for a half cup serving of tamarind.