Mention tamarind and one’s mouth immediately waters at the very thought of its sweet and sourish tang. An edible pod-like fruit that sprouts from a medium-growth shrub, it’s encased within a shell that resembles the edamame bean. If you’re looking to enhance the flavours of a savoury dish, consider adding the hard green pulp of its young fruit. On its own, it would be too sour.
But for the better part of its culinary use, it’s the sweetened and more ripened brown flesh most seek out – with cultures all over the world incorporating it into a variety of dishes and drinks to whet the appetite. In fact, while we may commonly associate this ingredient with curry, it’s a component of the hugely popular Worchestershire sauce – which explains that tang! In many cases, you can even use it as a stand-in for lime or lemon juice when recipes call for them. But our favourite thing about it is how it makes quite the addictive yet healthy and low-calorie snack – just crack the pod open, pull at the string, and munch away.
1. Healthy and nutritious
Not just famed for its versatility in the culinary world, there are plenty of reasons to start adding this little wonder fruit into your diet. It’s high in protein and thiamin, also known as Vitamin B1, which helps the body convert food into energy. So, before hitting the gym, you’ll want to nab these as a pre-workout snack. A study published in the International Journal of Plant Research has also shown that it contains a fair amount of potassium, vitamin C, and surprisingly for a fruit, calcium.
2. Medicinal properties
With a long history of medicinal uses, tamarind is very often used to help cure constipation due to its fibre content – just take a spoonful of tamarind paste first thing in the morning. Traditionally used as a poultice to help heal wounds, this is thanks to its tannin content as the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition reports that this chemical can help accelerate blood clotting. Moreover, it’s healthy for the heart and skin with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Plus, if you feel the onset of a sore throat, try gargling with tamarind water!
3. Glowing skin
If you’ve been suffering from a bout of acne, just throw some of the juice on your face, or dilute it with water and store it in a little spray bottle that you can chuck in the fridge for a cool and refreshing toner – its antibacterial properties help keep pimples at bay. And when the time comes to lighten up any scars, mix a teaspoon of its juice with a teaspoon each of lemon and honey for a moisturising yet brightening concoction. For skin that’s looking a wee bit dull, the alpha hydroxy acids in tamarind will exfoliate that dead layer of cells. But if your preferences run towards a stronger scrub, we recommend tossing in a spoonful of granulated sugar or rock salt – just add in a spoonful of yogurt to moisturise and thicken up the mixture.
4. Lustrous locks
A case of dandruff got you down? A study published in the International Research Journal of Pharmacy notes that washing your hair in water soaked with the fruit pulp is able to keep those flaky bits at bay.