Tamarind or imli as it is known in Hindi and Urdu, is a tart, fruity and delicious plant indigenous to Africa but used for years in both Indian and African cooking. Arab explorers named this fruit, ‘Tamar-e-Hind', or the ‘Date of India’ as it was so rife in Indian food and culture.
It is not an attractive looking fruit, but it certainly more than makes up for it in taste. Its sweet and tangy flavour, especially when it’s made into a sauce complements pretty much every Indian filling. You’ll find plenty of tamarind growing in warm Latin American countries and in South Asia and the Philippines. The history of how this plant came onto English shores is difficult to pinpoint, but there are tales of its use in flavoursome Indian curries made and served during the Victorian era. As British explorers sailed to India, they brought back vibrant flavours with them, including tamarind.
Besides being delicious, tamarind also has plenty of vitamin D and, unusual for a fruit, calcium. The fruit has also been used in traditional South Asian medicine, some ancient Indian tales purporting it can help relieve a fever.
Indian cooking utilises a lot of tamarind, especially in the form of tamarind sauce. In fact, the commonly used brown HP Sauce found in most British eateries, is actually said to have been inspired by this tamarind sauce - tangy, fruity and tarty. Luckily, our own family recipe tamarind sauce is also available at Zabardast and adds a little more oomph when drizzled on top of your wrap or salad! Be sure to try it and let us know what you think!
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