Origin: Tamarind belongs natively to tropical Africa. The trees used to grow wildly at Sudan. It took a lot of time to spread to other countries and became indigenous in India as well. Tamarind soon became a popular Asiatic plant. It was also one of the popular plants in Persia. The Arabs are known to give the name to this plant and were the first ones to call it Tamar hindi.
It was considered as Indian date, because of its resemblance to the Arabian date and in shape and color. The fruit has a significant history with Egyptians and to the Greeks since 4th Century B.C.
The tree has been used in East Indies and the islands of the Pacific. Tamarind reached the USA in late 17th century. The first tamarind trees was planted in Hawai in 1797. The tamarind was introduced to tropical America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the West Indies. In many tropical areas, the tamarind tree was grown as a shade tree. It was grown alongside roads and parks. Mexico has over 10,000 acres of tamarind trees, mostly growing in Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Veracruz. In the lower Motagua Valley of Guatemala, there are so many large tamarind trees in one area that it is called "El Tamarindal". ho there are extensive tamarind orchards producing 275,500 tons (250,000 MT) annually.
Scientifically: Scientifically known as Tamarindus indica belongs to the family of Leguminosae. The tamarind is a slow-growing and perennial plant. It grows huge in size under favorable conditions and reaches a height of 80 or even 100 ft (24-30 m). it can spread almost 40 ft (12 m) and the circumference of the trunk is usually 25 ft (7.5 m).
The Tamarind tree is highly wind-resistant and has strong branches. It has bright green fine feathery leaves. The leaves are usually evergreen but may shed for short while during the hot season. It has 5 petalled flowers with yellow and orange streaks.
The fruit is slightly flattish and is beanlike. It has irregular curves and bulged pods. The pods are generally cinnamon-brown or grayish-brown in color externally and when they are unripe, they are tender-skinned with green, highly acid flesh and soft, whitish, under-developed seeds. As the pods mature, the pods become juicy and have acidous pulp which turns brown or reddish-brown. Once matured, the skin becomes brittle, can be easily-cracked and the pulp dehydrates to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse strands of fiber.
Usage: Tamarind is popularly used in different cuisines for its sweet and tangy taste. It adds an amazing flavor to the dish and is used to make chutneys or dips, rice, curries fish curries, and meat dishes. Tamarind is also used to make to candies for kids and is eaten in dried form too. Tamarind based drinks are also popular all over the world. Apart from culinary benefits, Tamarind is great for the heart. It helps in lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure. The vitamin C helps in fighting cancer-causing free radicals. The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help in soothing skin problems and prevents aging of the skin. Tamarind is also used as a solidifying agent and emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions.
Below are some DIYs with tamarind:
- Take a tablespoon of tamarind pulp, a teaspoon of yogurt and a teaspoon of rose water. Mix all the ingredients together and apply the face for five-ten minutes. This remedy cleanses the skin and removes bacteria.
- Take a tablespoon of tamarind pulp and add half a teaspoon of turmeric to it. Mix them together and apply them on the skin for about 15 minutes. This helps in skin lightening and tightening.
- Take a teaspoon of gram flour, a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of tamarind pulp. Mix them together and apply them on the skin.
- Take a tablespoon of tamarind pulp, a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix them together and apply on the face. Keep it on 10 minutes and then rinse it in a scrubbing motion. This helps in removing dead skin.