Monday, February 23, 2009

Tangy stuff

What would south Indian cuisine be without this fruit? There would have been no sambar, rasam or puliyodarai without this tangy fruit to give them their distinctive flavour. It is a challenge to eat this fruit by itself, straight from the tree - not too many people would do it because the flavour is sharp and if you haven't ever tasted it, will wake you up double quick!

Almost every part of this tree can be used; the leaves and flowers are used in several dishes. The fruit, of course is the most commonly used part - eaten raw, pounded into a pulp with sugar added to it, stored in earthen pots and brought out a little at a time to add heft to the stock for sambar or rasam - a few years ago, small globules of these, sweetened with sugar, almost became a competitive advantage for one of the airlines, forcing everyone else in the skies to serve the same sweets.

For all that, this is not a native Indian tree. It came to India from Africa, but that move happened a very long time ago. Even the name - which has its roots in the Arabic phrase for 'date of Hind'- has a double dose of India in it. With a name like Tamarindus indica, it would be pointless trying to prove its foreign origins!


Lowell said...

Most interesting. I had never heard of it, so I'm glad to taught me something new today!

Susan said...

A very interesting shot and story to go with it!

LVISS said...

As long as it grows here and tastes good do not bother about its origins. It grows here we eat here.Period.

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: :)

@ AD/UAEDP: Thanks!

@ lviss: Yep. Yum!