I have recently begun playing with one of the flavors of Guatemala-tamarind. One of my favorite things to cool off with in the sweltering heat of San Agustin, Guatemala and the surrounding countryside is tamarind juice and frozen tamarind juice.
I recently decided to make my own tamarind juice, but had no idea how to do it. Now I often see frozen tamarind pulp at the store, but I wanted to experience making it from scratch like they do in Guatemala, or like I hope they do. Luckily I found tamarind pods in the produce department at my local supermarket. I was sad to find out that these were from Thailand, which in my research found out are sweeter than the tart ones grown and loved in Central America. But considering that I was going to add sugar to the brown juice anyways, I didn’t see a problem with this. Well there was! To me I don’t notice a difference from the tamarind we drink in Guatemala. But then again I didn’t grow up drinking it. It only came into my life a few years ago.
One evening Carlos brought home some tamarind from Central America, and yes there is a big difference! Even with added sugar the Central American grown is tart. The kind of tart that makes your mouth pucker the moment you take a sip, but then your tongue relaxes as you get used and begin to enjoy it. It definitely wakes you taste buds up. I made this tamarind juice into ice pops and served one day after the beach and they were a resounding hit.
Tamarind is not a wildly know ingredient, but it is widely used and you would be surprised in some of the places it is used. Tamarind is used in chutneys, is a main ingredient in many Indian dishes, as well in the ever popular Worcestshire Sauce. In Guatemala not only is it a popular juice, but is also a popular jellied candy that I had the chance of trying in Antigua recently and found to be extremely sweet.
Tamarind is the pod of a tree that grows predominantly in Central America, Mexico and Southeast Asia. The pods can grow up to eight inches long in clusters with each pod containing seeds and the all-important pulp. Some liken the flavor of tamarind to lemons, dates and apricots. I find it hard to compare it to any other flavors that we are familiar with.
Coming up next-making fresh tamarind juice.