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On a whim I bought some tamarind at the grocery store this week. I'm most familiar with it from the dish Pad Thai. My idea at the time was that I would "do something" with it and a pork chop. Pork chops being my canvas of choice for much experimentation.

However I'm now stumped as to what I actually do with this thing. I cracked the flimsy shell/skin to expose the sticky fruit inside. I licked it; it tastes good. I'm not sure what to do next though.

I've looked at some recipes online, but they all work with tamarind paste. I'm assuming I need to process the meat somehow to turn it into a paste.

Questions

  • Do I have to turn this into paste?
  • How do I clean/prepare it? (besides obviously throwing the skin away)
  • Do I need to add oil, water, or other ingredients to make it a paste?
  • Are there seeds? Do they need to be removed?

Tamarind

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7  
+1 for "I licked it; it tastes good." –  keithjgrant Mar 26 '11 at 4:53

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

1- Remove the hard shell,

2- simmer them in a little liquid until the meat can be easily removed from the seeds.

Tamarind is very sweet and very sour. Tamarind chutneys are delicious for a starting point. You can find recipes but not many other ingredients are required.

You asked if you have to make it into a paste- I suppose not but cooking them is required to get the seeds out and cooking turns the meat into a paste.

Carmi is correct that you can add them directly to liquid but you need to be able to get the large, hard seeds out.

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So presumably the seeds are inedible, and need to be removed and discarded? Can anything be done with the seeds? –  user568458 Dec 19 at 13:39
    
User56458- the seeds are beautiful. They're dark, smooth, glossy, and have weight to them. I use them for board game tokens. –  Sobachatina 2 days ago
    
I googled whether they are inedible. Apparently they are edible if prepared properly, and taste a little like peanuts, but the prep is a lot of work. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/42288/… –  user568458 yesterday

I just did this for the first time for a Pad Thai dish and it wasn't all that difficult. I removed and discarded the outer shell and veins. I covered the tamarind with hot water and let it sit for a little over an hour. I then removed the tamarind from the water (the water was a bit murky). A few remaining pieces of shell separated from the pieces during the hour soak as well. At this point, I had to use my hands (because I don't own a food mill). It was a bit messy, but not too difficult to get the pulp out of the tamarind. I added about a half a cup of water to what was originally 1.5 pounds of tamarind. Basically, you just continue to squeeze and try to separate out the seeds. I used a strainer to ensure that I was only getting pulp. In the end, you'll mostly be left with seeds and a bit of membrane as well.

The resources I found most useful were:

Best of luck!

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Just wash and soak in hot water. It would get real soft,add little lukewarm water to bring down the temperature. Dip your hand and squeeze the tamarinds, this would separate the pulp from the seeds and shell. Drain through a sieve or colander. If you need a recipe for tamarind uses, I would gladly oblige. :)

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Tamarind is used in a lot of Southeast and South Asian cooking. As you pointed out, most recipes call for paste, but according to Curry Cuisine, they can be used in a curry sauce: "Simply crack the shell and take out the pod." It doesn't say a whole lot more than that, though, so you may have to just experiment.

Tamarind is also used some in Mexico, but I've only seen recipes that call for paste. Here is a recipe for a tamarind beverage that uses the pods, though.

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You just add them to the liquid in the dish, in much the same way you would use cardamom pods, star anise, mustard seeds, or vanilla pods for that matter. The pods will partially dissolve, if I remember correctly.

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