I just don’t know where the time goes it’s Friday again and this week I am showcasing the lovely Tamarind…The Tamarind is very plentiful here and used in many Thai dishes …I love just eating the fruit it has quite a sour taste but I like it…It is sold in little packs here on the markets the seeds already removed or as a paste to add to food. It is also sold dried and sugared as a snack food and although sugared is still has quite a sour…taste…
This rather plain brown pods fruit does, however, have the capacity to elevate your food to something else.
Tamarind like many fruits and vegetables has a long history of healing and aiding stomach disorders and is used as a laxative.
Tamarind Preparations are used for fevers, sore throats, inflammation of joints and sunstroke. The leaves dried or boiled are made into poultices to help reduce swollen joints, sprains, boils, haemorrhoids and conjunctivitis.
Tamarind is also great as a marinade for meat as it breaks down and tenderises tougher cuts of meat. It is used to make jams and syrups it is also one of the secret ingredients of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce which is a fermented sauce which has many uses.
Great for smoothies a mango and tamarind smoothie is very nice it also has many other culinary uses.
This little dip is a recipe from Bali given to me by my grandson’s girlfriend it is very easy to make but made more special by the addition of tamarind.
Called Rujak sauce it is lovely with mangoes.
- Take 200 gm of palm sugar shaved.
- 15 gm of tamarind flesh and 5 tbsp of water leave to infuse for 5 mins and then drain and keep the tamarind flavoured water.
- 6 or more Thai chillies.
- 1/4 tsp shrimp paste and 1/4tsp salt.
Blitz all these ingredients together and you have fiery little sauce.
It is hard for me to pick a favourite dish made with Tamarind this recipe for Beef Rendang is a recipe given to me by my friend Mamik and it is very nice the beef is amazing. It is also my go-to recipe if I want that special dish to impress although there are many ingredients and it has quite a long prep time it is so worth it and as I said earlier if I am having guests a really lovely dish. You can see how rich and flavoursome that meat looks and it tastes amazing…
- 2” Galangal
- 2” Ginger
- 1 kg beef (Bottom Round)
- 1-litre Coconut Milk (3 sm tins and made to one litre with water)
- Grind together and put on one side, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds and 1 tsp white peppercorns.
- 2 Star Anise.
- Half cup toasted coconut (pound in pestle until oil is released and it looks like a paste.)
- 1 Turmeric Leaf (Leave the leaf whole but tear side to stem along leaf) this releases the flavour.
- 2 stems lemongrass crushed along the stem.
- 2 Lime leaves.
- Soak 1-2 tsp Tamarind pulp in a little water and set aside for later.
Blitz the next 4 ingredients together to make the curry paste.
- 2cm Fresh Turmeric.
- 10 Shallots
- 5 Cloves Garlic
- 10 large red chillies (de-seed if you want a milder curry)
Cut the beef into large cubes.
Put a tbsp oil of your choice in a cooking pot (I use a wok). Add Curry paste, ground coriander seeds, cumin and white peppercorns plus add chopped ginger,turmeric and galangal stir for 5 mins, add beef and stir to combine. Add coconut milk/water mixture and stir to combine.
Slowly bring to a gentle simmer, add torn turmeric leaf, lemongrass and lime leaves and star anise.
Cover pan and cook until meat is tender at least 3 hrs on a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
Add the ground coconut paste about half hour before the end of the cooking time and also the tamarind liquid and this is when the magic happens and the taste goes from just another curry to something wonderful.
When the meat is cooked and tender remove the turmeric leaf and lemongrass stalks although if we are not eating the curry until the next day I leave them and remove them before we eat the curry.
This curry should traditionally have a very thick paste and is also best eaten the next day to allow the flavours to develop.
However, as Europeans prefer a thinner sauce you can choose not to reduce down as much.
Another of my favourites is Miang Kham although I have made at home some markets sell all the little bits ready cut in bags with the sauce much easier and they taste just the same as much of the food sold on the markets here is made in home kitchens and brought to market…
- 3/4 cup grated coconut (this is often available in the baking section of most supermarkets) if you are not as lucky as me and can buy from our local fresh markets.
- 2 small limes, unpeeled (try to get limes with thin skin), cut into small cubes
- 6 tablespoons shallots, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 6 tablespoons roasted peanuts
- 6 tablespoons small dried shrimps
- 4-5 fresh Thai chillies, cut into small slivers
- 4 oz fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small cubes.
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste, roasted until fragrant
- 2 oz fresh galangal, cut into slivers and roasted until fragrant (see note below)
- 1/4 cup grated coconut, roasted in a low-heat oven until lightly brown
- 4 oz small dried shrimps.
- 2 oz shallots, peeled and coarsely cut
- 1.5 teaspoons fresh ginger, sliced
- 8 oz palm sugar (broken into small chunks)
- 2 tablespoons table sugar
- 1 tbsp tamarind soaked in 3 tbsp water for about 10 mins.
- salt for seasoning
In a pestle and mortar, pound together the shallots and galangal until fine (note about galangal: it’s ok to use dried galangal as long as it’s placed in a dish of lukewarm water for a few minutes to reconstitute). Add roasted shrimp paste, ginger, coconut and dried shrimp, and continue pounding until smooth. Remove the mixture and place in a pot with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, add palm sugar and table sugar, then reduce heat and simmer, wait until reduced to 1 cup or a bit less. Add tamarind liquid. Taste, and adjust by adding a bit of salt. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.
Your choice of what leaves to use is up to you. Some use lettuce or spinach leaves due to ready availability, but to get an authentic flavour you should use the fresh Betel Leaves.
Roast the coconut in a low-heat oven until lightly brown. Spoon the roasted coconut into a serving plate. In separate small bowls, arrange each filling ingredient listed above. With a fresh wrapping leaf in hand, fold it once across the bottom then sideways to form a pocket. Place about 1 teaspoon toasted coconut in the leaf together with a small amount of each filling to create a bite-sized quantity. Spoon the sauce on top, pop in your mouth and enjoy!
Although this can be a little time-consuming to prepare it is well worth it.
Lastly a beautiful salad with a Tamarind Sauce.
Yum Takrai (Spicy Lemongrass Salad)
- 15 stalks fresh lemongrass.
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp. toasted cashews
- 2 tbsp. whole dried shrimp
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1/2-1 1⁄2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. whole dried shrimp, finely ground
- 4-6 red Thai chillies stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, very thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 raw stemmed long beans, cut into 4″ pieces for garnish.
Trim and slice lemon grass very finely. Transfer lemongrass slices to a medium bowl, separate rings with your fingers. Add ginger, cashews, shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, ground shrimp, Thai chiles, and shallots, and toss well. Garnish with long beans. Serve on Banana Leaf or Betel Leaf as in my picture.
We also serve with a tamarind sauce made by combining 3 tbsp tamarind pulp with cup water in small pan, bring to boil and simmer 5 mins.
Remove from heat and stand 15 mins you can help break tamarind down with a spoon, strain through sieve extracting as much liquid as possible.
Add 2cm peeled finely chopped ginger and 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, 11/2 tbsp palm sugar,2 tsp fish sauce,1 tbsp chilli/garlic sauce and 1 tsp soy sauce to tamarind liquid. Bring to boil, simmer 5 mins.
Whisk 1 tbsp cornflour with little water whisk into sauce cook 1 min or until thickens.
Taste and adjust seasoning add more sugar if required.
Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.