Tamarind is a very well known herb and plant used by the Indians from a long time ago. The leaves are green in colour and thin longitudinal in shape. It has for many centuries been used in many things, such as culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses . The tamarind leaf is the leaf of a tall shade tree native to Asia and northern Africa and widely grown in India. The large pods of the fruit contain small seeds and a sour-pulp that, when dried, becomes extremely sour. Tamarind leaves are used for herbal medicine as well as for spicing up soups. Tamarind leaves are added to fish soups and other soups. Folk medicine uses Tamarind leaves for sprains and swelling.
Fresh tamarind leaves
These are available usually in te spring months and are used as a tempering, paste or whole in various cuisines.
Dried tamarind leaves
In order to increase the shelf life, the tamarind leaves are dried under the sun or commercially with driers. They need to be soaked in water and the extract is then used for culinary preparations.
How to select
Tamarind leaves are available in both fresh and dried form. The fresh ones should have light green colour and the leaves should not be wilted. Check the best before date before buying dried leaves.
· The young tender tamarind leaves have a subtle tart flavour without being overly bitter or sour. You can add quite a lot of these exotic tender greens to the any recipe, increasing your nutrient intake and giving your taste buds a real treat at the same time.
· Tamarind leaves are removed from the stalk and soaked in water to extract the sourness. The leaves are discarded and the sour water is used for culinary uses. Alternatively, the green leaves may be ground in to a paste and added to any preparation while cooking.
· Pickled tamarind leaves are common in India and are used as a flavoring in East Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It's used to season full flavored foods such as chutney, curry dishes and pickled fish.
· Quite a few delicacies are prepared with these sour greens in Andhra cuisine like Chintachiguru pachadi, Chintachiguru pappu and Chintachiguru Mamsam (meat).
· These sour greens when combined with the dal lend the dish a pleasingly wonderful flavour with a delicate undertone of sourness without overpowering the earthy comforting flavour of the dal.
How to store
Fresh leaves should be refrigerated and consumed within a week. While the dried ones can be stored in an air tight container and used for months.
· Tamarind leaves is cathartic, astringent and, antiseptic.
· In India Tamarind is popular as a gentle laxative
· Tamarind is acidic and excites the bile and other juices in the body. Tamarind is also a blood purifier.
· Folk medicine uses Tamarind leaves for sprains and swelling.
· The leaves are sometimes used in sub acid infusions, and a decoction is said to destroy worms in children, and is also useful for jaundice, and externally as a wash for sore eyes and ulcers
· In the Philippines, the leaves have been traditionally used in herbal tea for reducing malaria fever.