Tamarind trees, although indigenous to tropical Africa, have grown on Indian soil for many centuries and have deep roots in Indian folklore. The trees bear fruit with a date-like consistency and an explosive, tart flavor, encased by a hard shell similar to that of a peanut. The fruit itself was nicknamed “Indian date”, and is a key ingredient in many Indian chutneys and curries. India is currently the largest producer of tamarind fruits for commercial use.
The fruit is packed with nutrients like calcium, iron, thiamin, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and various vitamins. They have several traditional uses in India, for example, treatment of jaundice, liver problems, cholera, to soothe the throat, reduce fever and aid digestion. Scientific studies continue to show promising findings regarding tamarinds, including acting as an anticancer agent, exhibiting antifungal activities, and potential efficacy as an antidiabetic.
- Tamarind is used for a base in barbeque sauces due to its earthy, sweet and sour taste. It’s actually a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce!
- Tamarind seed extracts are really good for your skin! When applied to the skin, the extracts boost skin elasticity, and its hyaluronic acid helps with moisturization.
- In Indian folklore, there is a belief that the spirits of the dead reside in the tamarind, therefore the tamarind groves are avoided at night. It is also believed that the tree exudes unhealthy vapors, so it is important to avoid sleeping in the tree’s shade!