Taste 1,000 Fruits: Tamarind

10th July 2009

This is a tamarind pod.

Inside, the pod has a paste-like brown fruit around its seeds.

It doesn’t look particularly appetizing.

The fruit is very sour, but not like a lemon. There’s sweetness there too. It tastes almost like Crystal Light powder. But more delicious.

You suck the fruit away from the seeds. They’re hard, and clack together in your hand, almost like heavy coffee beans. Delicious.

Intel is making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List over the next few months. This trip to Puerto Rico is adding a few more fruits to my 1,000 fruits list.

35 thoughts on “Taste 1,000 Fruits: Tamarind

  1. Amy

    Weird – I’ve never had one! Love the way you illustrated the story with photos – especially that expression!

  2. Maureen

    I love tamarind. It’s great to cook with, too, and you can make jewellery out of the seeds.

  3. Rebecca

    Around here (Toronto, Kensington Market) you can get Tamarind flavored candies. My best friend LOVES them. I think they are the most disgusting things I’ve ever eaten. Oh – and also tamarind flavored roasted almonds.

  4. Anjali

    If you’ve had Indian food, chances are, you’ve had tamarind – it’s a main ingredient in the sweet chutney often served alongside a spicy minty green chutney, perfect with samosas, and other Indian snacks like pani puri…

  5. greta

    tamarind candies are pretty popular down here in southern california too – they seem to be especially popular when coated with chili powder. yum!

  6. elsie

    As a Cuban kid growing up in Miami Tamarind or Tamarindo ice cream was always a welcome summer treat- you’ve taken me back!

  7. Christy

    Lots of tamarind candies and tamarind water in Mexico. LOVE it, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. The texture is…interesting.

  8. Cait

    OH, tamarind! only my favorite flavor of everything, ever. (Tamarind soda is the bomb. Tamarind cupcakes are the most delicious thing ever, ever, ever.)

  9. Elise Gorseth

    My grandmother-in-law in Croatia dries the pods and then makes tea out of them. Tamarind tea is quite, ah, constipating as I can attest to. It also is very bitter. I don’t think you’re meant to eat them raw, but to boil the flesh down and make a jam out of it.

  10. valerie

    My favorite thing ever said about tamarind comes, surprisingly, from the FDA, who deemed it “unfit for human consumption”:

    Reason: FILTHY
    Section: 402(a)(3), 801(a)(3); ADULTERATION
    Charge: The article appears to consist in whole or in part of a filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance or be otherwise unfit for food.

    HILARIOUS!

  11. JP

    Someone already mentioned it, but tamarind (or ‘tamarindo’) margaritas are really a reason to live all on their own. Yum.

    I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, but curious if they have a fruit called zapote. (You can get in Mexico, at least.) You must try that fruit as well. If you have and I missed it…well, I suck. But the fruit is amazing.

  12. Annie A.

    FDA doesn’t like tamarindos? WTH?
    Anywho, boil the pulp until soft, throw it in the blender with water, strain and add a little sugar to make delicious, fresh “agua de tamarindo”. You can also make a more concentrated version and freeze it to make popsicles.

  13. Liz Anderson

    Tamarind is what gives A-1 and worcestershire sauce that extra special “what is it?” flavor kick.

  14. El Gray

    They actually make (or did make) a Tamarindo Kool-Aid powder for a while. I declared it one of the worst things I’d ever tasted upon first sip. Another day, though, after I’d been working outside, and it was ice cold, it was totally chuggable. Context matters, I guess.

  15. MJM

    I grew up eating these as a kid in far north Australia! There was always a tree in the schoolyard or some neighbour kid’s yard where you were obliged to nibble them enthusiastically to be cool.

  16. Stella

    Oh snap! Looks like you’re having a great time over here on my little island! :) Am glad you have not stayed in OSJ and ventured out. Unfortunately, too many tourists stay there and think that is what the entire island is about. Which is foolish.

    JP (and Maggie): We -definitely- have zapote here. Two kinds in fact. We use it (and like it) so much, we even have milkshakes of it! However, we call it mamey here. There’s regular mamey and mamey zapote.

    Also, have you tried quenepas? I’m afraid i don’t remember all the fruits you’ve tasted, Maggie, but if you haven’t it, give them a try! They’re in season right now!

    And the FDA can suck it, we’ve been eating tamarindos here all our lives and we’re fine :)

    Also, before I forget: if you can, when you go back to OSJ, definitely go to the fortresses. Either El Morro or Fuerte San Cristóbal. Avoid La Perla (not because everybody there is bad, but, unfortunately there are some unsavory dangerous sorts there). And if you can, get a Coquí plushie for Hank! There our little tree frogs and they make them into plushies that have a recording of what coquís sound like.

  17. Renee

    I fully believe that eating the most authentic food you can find is the best way to take in the land that surrounds you when you travel. I must find a tamarind now!

  18. cate

    that pink of old san juan — you’re a lucky girl, you are. i hope you’re enjoying the hell out of your trip!

  19. Maggie

    As your commenter Kim said, it looks like dog poo. Or refried beans (what’s the diff?). Not sure I will be trying that any time soon.

  20. G

    Very high in vitamin C.
    Just a few short months ago, Nestle released fruit/ice cream bars in tropical flavors targeted for the Hispanic population (really) – they include the usual mango, pineapple, coconut (this is very good), but it was the first time I had seen a tamarind flavored ice cream treat! Worth trying Nestle Helado!
    http://www.vpepr.com/news3.html

  21. Michelle

    My granny in Barbados had a giant tamarind tree in front of her house. We used to fight the monkeys and the ants for the pods when they fell to the ground and she would crack them open and roll them in sugar. We ate them as candy. Super tasty.

  22. Erica

    In Barbados we boil them and make a nice sticky syrup.

    I actually have a giant tamarind ball in my fridge right now. It’s a ball made of the ‘flesh’ of the tamarind that’s rolled in sugar and salt. Yum!

  23. Krista

    I just tried tamarind for the first time yesterday. Kind of a coincidence since I just read your post the other day about trying tamarind. I guess they come in different types, because the one I had was a Sweet Tamarind, which you can guess by the name, was sweet. Well, kind of a sweet sour taste. And the seeds looked different than yours too. They were kind of football shaped and brown. Although my fiance did say that the ones hes tried before were more sour, which is probably like the one you tried.

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