‘Would you like to try a little treat?’, asks our friend Casilda this morning at breakfast. Of course I didn’t hesitate to grab one of the little donut-hole shaped balls. To my surprise…instead of the sweet donut-like confection I imagined … was this amazing spicy burst of flavor. Casilda pointed to the tree behind where we sat, and explained they were Tamarind balls made from the Tamarind pods. The flavor is amazing – a burst of Island spices matched with the sour-yet-sweet Tamarind pulp.
We then went on a short little hike to see the Tamarind tree. Casilda removed a few of the Tamarind pods and showed us how to clean and remove the pulp from the pod.
The nerd in me had to learn more, so here’s what I learned about the Tamarind. The tamarind tree produces a pod-like fruit which contain an edible (and tasty!) pulp. One other use of the pulp includes as a traditional medicine – great if you have an upset tummy. (Tried and tested after too many Painkillers last night!). The Tamarind wood can be used for woodworking, and Tamarind seed oil can be extracted from the seeds. Because of the tamarind’s many uses, you can find Tamarind around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. Who knew!
Nothing beats the flavor of the Tamarind straight off the tree in Jost Van Dyke, but if you’d like to try making these Island treats, here’s the recipe using Tamarind paste. And if you have fresh Tamarind – all the better. Please note that this Recipe is minus Casilda’s secret ingredients, of course! Some secrets have to stay a secret. 😉
TROPICAL TAMARIND BALLS
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 (7-ounce) package tamarind paste (or fresh Tamarind of course!)
1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce
Pinch salt, to taste
Put 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow plate. In a bowl, combine the tamarind, hot sauce, salt, and remaining sugar. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together. Divide the tamarind mixture into bite-size portions, and shape into balls.
Add the tamarind balls to the sugar, and roll to coat evenly.