Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic (having only a single species).
The fruit pulp is edible. The hard green pulp of a young fruit is considered by many to be too sour and acidic, but is often used as a component of savory dishes, as a pickling agent or as a means of making certain poisonous yams in Ghana safe for human consumption.
The ripened fruit is considered the more palatable, as it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic) as it matures. It is used in desserts as a jam, blended into juices or sweetened drinks, sorbets, ice creams and all manner of snacks. It is also consumed as a natural laxative.
In Western cuisine, it is found in Worcestershire sauce, and HP sauce.
Imli chutney and pulusu use it. Along with tamarind, sugar and spices are added to (regional) taste for chutneys or a multitude of condiments for a bitter-sweet flavor. The immature pods and flowers are also pickled and used as a side dish. In regional cuisines, such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu(where it is called “Puli”) and Andhra Pradesh, use it to make rasam, sambhar, vatha kuzhambu and puliyogare. In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, tender leaves of tamarind are used with lentils, and it is also dried and used in place of ripe tamarind for mild flavour. In southern parts of Kerala, mostly along the coastal belt, it is added to fish curry, masalas and ground coconut for flavouring.
In Guadeloupe, tamarind is known as tamarinier and is used in jams and syrups.
In Trinidad and Tobago, tamarind is rolled into balls (5 cm in diameter) with white granulated sugar and a blend of spices to create tambran balls.
In Mexico, it is sold in various snack forms: dried and salted; or candied (see for example pulparindo or chamoy snacks).
Agua fresca beverage, iced fruit bars and raspados all use it as the main ingredient. In the United States, Mexican immigrants have fashioned the agua de tamarindo drink, the Jarritos tamarind drink (the first introduced and second most popular flavour of the brand) and many other treats. Tamarind snacks, such as Mexico’s Pelon Pelo Rico candies are available in specialty food stores worldwide.
A sour, chilled drink made from tamarind is served in Egypt.
A traditional food plant in Africa, tamarind has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.
In southern Kenya, the Swahili people use it to garnish legumes and also make juices. In Madagascar, its fruits and leaves are a well-known favorite of the ring-tailed lemurs, providing as much as 50% of their food resources during the year if available. In northern Nigeria, it is used with millet powder to prepare kunun tsamiya, a traditional pap mostly used as breakfast, and usually eaten with bean cake.
In Turkey, it is called “Demirhindi” and being consumed as a sweetened cold drink. It also available as a fruit but is not well known by the general population since it is not grown locally and is imported.
The Javanese dish gurame and more so ikan asem, also known as ikan asam (sweet and sour fish, commonly a carp or river fish) is served throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; Some dishes in Manado, Sulawesi and Maluku cuisines use Tamarind.
In Lebanon, the Kazouza company sells a tamarind-flavoured carbonated beverage.
In Myanmar, young and tender leaves and flower buds are eaten as a vegetable. A salad dish of tamarind leaves, boiled beans, and crushed peanuts topped with crispy fried onions is served in rural Myanmar. In the Philippines, tamarind is used in foods like sinigang soup, and also made into candies. The leaves are also used in sinampalukan soup.
In Thailand, a cultivar has been bred specifically to be eaten as a fresh fruit: it is particularly sweet and minimally sour. It is also sometimes eaten preserved in sugar with chili as a sweet-and-spicy candy. Pad Thai often includes tamarind for its tart/sweet taste (with lime juice added for sourness and fish sauce added for saltiness and umami). A tamarind-based sweet-and-sour sauce is served over deep-fried fish in central Thailand.
Phytochemical studies have revealed the presence of tannins, saponins, sesquiterpenes, alkaloids and phlobatamins and other extracts active against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, at temperatures of 4–30 °C (39–86 °F). Studies on the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) of the extracts on the test organisms showed the lowest MIC and the MBC were demonstrated against Salmonella paratyphi, Bacillus subtilis and Salmonella typhi and the highest MIC and MBC were exhibited against Staphylococcus aureus.
In northern Nigeria, fresh stem bark and fresh leaves are used as decoction mixed with potash for the treatment of stomach disorders, general body pain, jaundice, yellow fever and as blood tonic and skin cleanser. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and Javanese traditional medicine, asem leaves are used as a herbal infusion for malarial fever, the fruit juice as an antiseptic, and for scurvy and even cough cure. Throughout Southeast Asia fruit of the tamarind as used a poultice applied to foreheads of fever sufferers.
Tamarind is used as in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for gastric and/or digestion problems, and in cardioprotective activity.
In animal studies, tamarind has been found to lower serum cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Due to a lack of available human clinical trials, there is insufficient evidence to recommend tamarind for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia or diabetes.
Based on human study, tamarind intake may delay the progression of skeletal fluorosis by enhancing excretion of fluoride. However, additional research is needed to confirm these results.
Excess consumption has been noted as a traditional laxative.
Other medicinal uses include: Anthelminthic (expels worms), antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, asthma, astringent, bacterial skin infections (erysipelas), boils, chest pain, cholesterol metabolism disorders, colds, colic, conjunctivitis (pink eye), constipation (chronic or acute), diabetes, diarrhea (chronic), dry eyes, dysentery (severe diarrhea), eye inflammation, fever, food preservative, food uses (coloring), gallbladder disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, gingivitis, hemorrhoids, indigestion, insecticide, jaundice, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), leprosy, liver disorders, nausea and vomiting (pregnancy-related), paralysis, poisoning (Datura plant), rash, rheumatism, saliva production, skin disinfectant/sterilization, sore throat, sores, sprains, sunscreen, sunstroke, swelling (joints), urinary stones, wound healing (corneal epithelium).
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