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Tamarind, in Italy it is often associated with the syrup made from it, but it is a fruit and its pulp, widely used in Asian cuisine, is also used as a spice. It has laxative effects but also antioxidant properties and lowers cholesterol, we can also taste it in jam or learn how to grow it.
The scientific name of the plant is Tamarindus, it is an evergreen belonging to the Leguminosae family, originally from Madagascar. When it grows, it reaches 30 meters high, it produces fruits but fresh they are almost impossible to find in Italy, let's imagine them made up of pods with numerous seeds inside, from 4 to 12. In our part of the world we have to be content with finding the dehydrated pulp, perhaps looking for it in specialized shops, herbalists or ethnic shops. The so-calledtamarind paste, a sauce with a characteristic flavor.
In general, tamarind is recommended to people who show gastric or digestive problems, or constipation given the notes laxative properties and its intestinal regulator action linked to the presence of organic acids in the pulp.
Besides facilitate emptying of the gallbladder and to prevent biliary disorders, tamarind is a good antibacterial and has anti-infectious properties, in India it is also used against toothache and all over the world, where it is known, in the hot season it becomes a refreshing welcome that replenishes the loss of mineral salts.
Its pulp also contains caffeic acid and ellagic acid, antioxidants, and a lot of fiber that reduces blood cholesterol levels and improves cardiovascular health. Thanks to potassium, tamarind lowers blood pressure, while the presence of iron helps to oxygenate the muscles and organs of the body as well as avoid situations of anemia, underlying fatigue, headaches and stomach problems.
Though native to Asian areas, the tamarind plant finds its ancestors in Africa, but today we can more likely see it soar in India, a region where the climate and habitat in general is more suitable.
Just when he's at ease, this one plant reaches heights exceeding 25 meters, don't be in a hurry, however, with the tamarind, because it develops and grows very slowly, the trunk remains modest in size and its branches point upwards every day.
Slow, therefore, but also very long-lived, given that it can even surpass a century of life always producing woody and dark brown fruits, about 10 centimeters long and with one pulp used as food, as a natural remedy and as a supplement.
If we have no idea of the taste of tamarind, imagine it different from that of the syrup that we find in our country. In fact, if this drink is sweet, the pulp of the fruit tends to acid because of an acid contained in it, the tartaric acid which, measured, is present in a percentage of about 12%. According to the numbers, we also give the one related to the categories, for those interested: we talk about 240 calories per 100 grams of tamarind, in its edible part.
There jam from this fruit it is used above all for the laxative properties that it proves to have, being also sweet and pleasant, it is proposed to children as a natural remedy against constipation and intestinal irregularity since it does not cause pain in the colon.
The fruit alone contains a lot of sugars, for 57%, but also 5% of dietary fiber and only 0.6% of fat. The most present mineral salts are potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and then vitamins C, E, K, and J respond .
When instead of the jam you want to use the pulp, directly, should be left to soak in hot water and then squeezed and filtered. From the seeds we get the "Tamarind gum" and the leaves in turn can be used, as in the Philippines, for prepare herbal teas against malarial fevers.
Tamarindo: where to buy
Also called Indian date, tamarind is found quite frequently in India, with the name of "imli", and in Asia also used as an ingredient for sauces, soups or in recipes with rice. In Italy we can buy it in syrup format, also online on Amazon, at 5 euros, receiving a 56 cl bottle. In specialized or ethnic shops, we can also find dried pulp.
Among the many Indian cooking recipes that involve the use of tamarind, I prefer to provide that of syrup, realistically more achievable here. However, it is necessary to obtain 800 grams of tamarind pulp, sugar and two liters of water.
After boiling the water, adding the pulp, we leave the pot on a low heat for a quarter of an hour and then filter everything, also adding the sugar in an amount equivalent to double its weight. After boiling another half hour, let it cool down and we pack the syrup in hermetically sealed bottles to be opened and used also by diluting the liquid in water or slush.
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