Tamarind: What is it?!

Question: Tamarind: What is it?
I see an orange wheel shaped "Thing" in the bulk section of produce.
Is it manufactured or is it a natural item? How would it be used in cooking?


Tamarind is a versatile "spice" that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It has an earthy sweetness and is used in Mexican sweet dishes but more common in Indian cuisine as well as Southern Asia, the Asian dish "Pad Thai" is most familiar to most folks and Tamarind is the dominant flavor.

Fruit: The 3 - 8 inch long, brown, irregularly curved pods are borne in abundance along the new branches. As the pods mature, they fill out somewhat and the juicy, acidulous pulp turns brown or reddish-brown. When fully ripe, the shells are brittle and easily broken. The pulp dehydrates to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse stands of fiber. The pods may contain from 1 to 12 large, flat, glossy brown, obovate seeds embedded in the brown, edible pulp. The pulp has a pleasing sweet/sour flavor and is high in both acid and sugar. It is also rich in vitamin B and high in calcium. There are wide differences in fruit size and flavor in seedling trees. Indian types have longer pods with 6 - 12 seeds, while the West Indian types have shorter pods containing only 3 - 6 seeds. Most tamarinds in the Americas are of the shorter type.

Chetak is right re Tamarind the chocolate substitute you mention is Carob.

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