The Tamarind Sauce Recipe
I grew up eating tamarind and the usual forms were tamarind balls, and tamarind sauce.
My friends Deirdre, Arlene, Cheryl and I went down to “the tamarind ball shop” on the road at the back of the convent to buy these delicacies and shared them giggling with the relief of not having been stopped by whomever nun was on lunch duty. Tamarind has a very acidic, distinctive flavour here in the Caribbean. I think there is another variety in the far east which is called “sweet tamarind” which doesn’t have the same punch.
There is no delicate way to eat a tamarind ball. You simply pull off a seed and suck the sugary flesh off it while your cheeks get pinched in with the acid. Because of this acid, it makes a very good ingredient in vinaigrette as a substitute to vinegar. Its also great marbled into plain yogurt (rather than evenly mixed in) dolloped onto warm cooked pulses.
When the pods are mature their colour is evenly brown and crumbles off quite easily.
So go ahead and peel your pods and then place them in water just enough to cover them. Let them sit for an hour or two.
Don’t throw out the soaking water but keep it off to the side as you may need to moisten your paste with it. All you do now is get your hands stuck into the mushy tamarind seeds and work the flesh off them. Its not a difficult job, but worth doing slowly and purposefully as you don’t want to waste any of the yumminess, and there’s not a great deal on each seed. Also, the inner seed is black and shiny, then it wears a jacket of whitish material, onto which the flesh is attached. You do not want the clothing, only the paste. I have a little blender which I used to bring my tamarind sauce to the lovely smoothness you see in the picture, but you could just use an old fashioned whisk. You want the consistency to be just thick enough to stay formed on a spoon.
I store mine in the freezer, but depending on how much you make, it keeps well in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.