WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tamarind- New Favorite! Tamarind Pie!

Tamarind. I had seen it being used on the Food Network show Chopped. Derek also has had various tamarind based drinks and foods on his travels. I have been reading a ton of recipes and think I am ready to incorporate this neat fruit into our diet.

Nutritionally it is a good source of vitamin B- which we have to watch with Abby to make sure she gets enough. Also and best yet, for the Mast Cell Disorder population it is a neutrophil degranulation inhibitor.

As far as cooking you can use it in endless recipes from sweet to savory. A sweet and sour kind of flavor that melds very well in marinades and of course makes a very delicious dessert.

I bought both the "tamarind paste" and bought a box fresh. I really wanted to learn how to handle this fruit as it is gaining popularity quickly. In Mexico they make a candy. In Trinidad they make a sweetened juice they pour over ice. In Asia you will find it commonly used in marinades and with meats. It has been a commonly used fruit everywhere but here. I suspect when America figures out how versatile this is, and how delicious it will become popular here as well.

It is sticky like dates once they go through the blender- so would be absolutely perfect for holding together snack bars. They have a very subtle fruity flavor like a tiny bit of prune/raisin- but the flavor is so bright! Light, tart with sweet undertones- I am completely and totally in love with the flavor.

on the Livestrong site I found a good summary on it's use and value:

While the sugar content varies between different varieties and cultivars, there are approximately 57.4 g of sugar in 100 g of sweet tamarinds. With .6 g of fats and 2.8 g of protein, the majority of the 239 calories in 100 g of sweet tamarinds comes from sugar. In addition to providing a large amount of energy for short-term use, sweet tamarinds are a good source of fiber. As there are 5.1 g of fiber in 100 g of tamarinds, these fruits can help to promote healthy digestion and lower your blood pressure.
Tamarinds contains small amounts of a variety of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E and K. In addition, tamarinds are a rich source of a number of B-vitamins. This includes between 35 and 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of thiamin, 10 and 15 percent of your riboflavin and 12 to 14 percent of your niacin. As all B-vitamins are essential to the metabolism of glucose, fats and protein, tamarinds can help you to meet your fitness goals. In addition, these B-vitamins help to regulate your body's production of stress hormones, potentially reducing stress and helping you to feel calm throughout the day.
Tamarinds are a source of a number of minerals, with 100 g of sweet tamarinds providing you with seven percent of your daily calcium, 16 percent of your phosphorous, 13 percent of your potassium and 10 percent of your copper. These fruits are surprisingly rich in iron, providing between 16 and 35 percent of your recommended daily intake depending on your age, sex and reproductive status. With an additional 22 percent of a man's and 29 percent of a woman's magnesium, tamarinds have a range of nutritional benefits due to their high mineral content. These include benefits for blood flow, energy, bone health, muscle function and development, diabetes, high blood pressure, wound healing, arthritis, high cholesterol and thyroid disorders.

From the Purdue website:
Medicinal Uses:Medicinal uses of the tamarind are uncountable. The pulp has been official in the British and American and most other pharmacopoeias and some 200,000 lbs (90,000 kg) of the shelled fruits have been annually imported into the United States for the drug trade, primarily from the Lesser Antilles and Mexico. The European supply has come largely from Calcutta, Egypt and the Greater Antilles. Tamarind preparations are universally recognized as refrigerants in fevers and as laxatives and carminatives. Alone, or in combination with lime juice, honey, milk, dates, spices or camphor, the pulp is considered effective as a digestive, even for elephants, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders, and as an antiscorbutic. In native practice, the pulp is applied on inflammations, is used in a gargle for sore throat and, mixed with salt, as a liniment for rheumatism. It is, further, administered to alleviate sunstroke, Datura poisoning, and alcoholic intoxication. In Southeast Asia, the fruit is prescribed to counteract the ill effects of overdoses of false chaulmoogra, Hydnocarpus anthelmintica Pierre, given in leprosy. The pulp is said to aid the restoration of sensation in cases of paralysis. In Colombia, an ointment made of tamarind pulp, butter, and other ingredients is used to rid domestic animals of vermin.

Tamarind leaves and flowers, dried or boiled, are used as poultices for swollen joints, sprains and boils. Lotions and extracts made from them are used in treating conjunctivitis, as antiseptics, as vermifuges, treatments for dysentery, jaundice, erysipelas and hemorrhoids and various other ailments. The fruit shells are burned and reduced to an alkaline ash which enters into medicinal formulas. The bark of the tree is regarded as an effective astringent, tonic and febrifuge. Fried with salt and pulverized to an ash, it is given as a remedy for indigestion and colic. A decoction is used in cases of gingivitis and asthma and eye inflammations; and lotions and poultices made from the bark are applied on open sores and caterpillar rashes. The powdered seeds are made into a paste for drawing boils and, with or without cumin seeds and palm sugar, are prescribed for chronic diarrhea and dysentery. The seedcoat, too, is astringent, and it, also, is specified for the latter disorders. An infusion of the roots is believed to have curative value in chest complaints and is an ingredient in prescriptions for leprosy.

The leaves and roots contain the glycosides: vitexin, isovitexin, orientin and isoorientin. The bark yields the alkaloid, hordenine.

I have been hunting blogs that show how to handle this fruit. It was so unfamiliar I had no idea how to go about using it. Anything new can seem overwhelming. So glad I decided to tackle tamarind, I suspect it will become a welcome staple in our home. For those who want to use it, but aren't sure about using it fresh, the tamarind paste is available in many Asian markets and from what I have found it is usually clean of chemicals and cross contamination.
(First one partially shelled)
(shelled and deveined)

So easy to peel. The brown shell simply crumbles(If they are completely ripe,the longer they have been left on the tree to dehydrate,the sweeter they get.). There are some fine veins wrapping the sticky pod- those also peeled right off. In no time I had the whole box shelled and de veined and in the water.

Fresh Tamarind Pie(custard like a pumpkin)
1 lb tamarind
3 cups water
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Lyle's golden cane syrup(or use 3/4 cup total granulated sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoons potato starch
3 whole eggs
1/4 coconut milk(preferably the firm cream at the top of the can)

Preparing the Tamarind for the pie:

Peel and devein the tamarind fruit. Add fruit and 3 cups water to pot, bring to a low boil and stir and boil for about 15-20 minutes(stir off and on it helps break the fruit off the seed pods.)

Once it appears well broken down(you will see the dark seeds moving around and the water will be getting thick with fruit fiber) strain in medium/fine strainer. Mine looked like thin apple butter once I had strained it.

Add the rest of the ingredients to tamarind sauce. Pour into prepared pie crust(gluten free 1 1/2 cup gf flour with 1/3 cup palm shortening, 1/3 cup coconut oil,dash of salt cut in till pebbled size , and water till it combines-chill. Then roll this is crumbly and you will have to repair,but worth the work!).
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 30-35 minutes.(If you are using coconut oil in your crust I recommend covering your crust when you reduce the heat, coconut browns very quickly.) A little wiggle in the middle is fine. Serve completely chilled or hot with coconut whipped cream or lemon curd.


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