A Taste of Tamarind: Culinary Journey to Kerala

Tamarind is a fruit pod from a species of tree named, appropriately enough, the Tamarind. This leguminous plant is thought to have been indigenous to tropical Africa but has been cultivated on the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. The pod contains a sticky pulp that is used for its sweet and sour properties throughout North Africa, India and Asia.

The southernmost state of India, Kerala maintains an equatorial tropical climate that makes it perfect for the production of heat-loving spices. For thousands of years, Kerala has been a major cultivator of spices such as cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cloves and pepper. One of the region’s most popular dishes is Beef Ularthiyathu, or beef fry, and is often served at small shops and carts along well traveled streets.

Tamarind is often used as a souring agent in the cooking process that results in a refreshing tangy note the can brighten up a dish. As the fruit ages, it becomes both sweeter and more tart thus providing savory undertones—in fact the tanginess in Worcestershire Sauce comes from tamarind. Tamarind can be compared to lemon, although its dual flavor profiles makes it more dynamic. 

With a variety of our premium spices to choose from, it’s easy to enjoy authentic Keralan cuisine in your own home. This delicious stir fry, uses one tablespoon of tamarind concentrate. It’s authentic, easy to create, and a recipe that has found its place in my “craving that tonight’ cooking rotation.

Ken Theisen is a new recruit at the Evanston location. As soon as he discovered that he loved to cook, the quest for quality spices led him straight to the Spice House. When not attempting to evangelize the wonders of Berbere, he can be found at the local cinema, or on a shady bike trail.

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