The tamarind tree is an amazing tree that has multiple benefits. It is very famous for its culinary uses, its various parts are used for medicinal purposes, its wood has many applications and its seed is used for making oil. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world because of the multiple benefits that this tree provides.
The word ‘tamarind’ has originated from two different words; the first word is an arab word ‘tamar’ which means ‘dried date’. The other word is ‘hind’ which represents Hindu or Indian connection. Although both the words are not quite correct to describe this tree, because it is neither a date nor it is native to the lands of India.
The tamarind tree may have been confused as a date tree because the fruit of this tree have a consistency and texture which is quite similar to that of dates. But in fact it is a leguminous tree which is native to the tropical areas of Africa. And it is believed that it came to the Indus valley about 5000 years ago, and then it was quickly spread to the subcontinent and other South East Asian countries.
The most famous part of the tamarind tree is its fruit, which are harvested in big numbers. However, the leaves and other parts are also very beneficial and they have been used for making many ancient medicines.
Tamarind Tree – Basic Description
The tamarind tree belongs to the leguminous family ‘Fabaceae’ and genus ‘Tamarindus’. The scientific name of the tamarind tree is ‘Tamarindus Indica’. Tamarind tree grows to become a very large and tall evergreen tree, it adapts well to the different climates.
This tree can grow quite tall and it can reach up to a height of 20 to 25 meters in proper growing conditions. It has dense foliage which makes it a good option for a shade tree. It also has a wide crown which can grow up to 20 meters wide. It has drooping branches and as such it may require proper pruning for developing a good and strong structure.
The leaves of the tamarind tree are evenly pinnate compound leaves, they are pale green in color and arranged alternately. The leaflets have entire margin and they are elliptical or oblong in shape. The flowers are inconspicuous and not showy; and they are yellow or red in color.
The fruit of the tamarind tree is in the shape of an elongated pod, which is generally 3 to 6 inches long and contains multiple seeds. The fruit has a dry and hard covering to protect the pulp of the fruit. It is brown to dark brown in color. It is not known to attract wildlife; it is very well suited for human consumption.
The fruit of the tamarind tree can be sweet or very tart or in between, depending on the variety of the tree. The fruit can be eaten directly or it can be used for flavoring, it is used in many recipes as one of the main ingredients. It is very nutritious, tasty and it’s good for your overall health and general well being.
Tamarind Paste – Process of Making and Benefits
Tamarind paste is a very handy item that can be readily used to spice up your recipe. It has a tarty and tangy flavor which can add a lot to your normal meal; along with being tasty it is also nutritious and fibrous. As such a lot of people like to keep this ready to use tamarind paste available in their kitchen at all times.
It is quite easy to use the tamarind paste and it does not go bad for a long period of time, also it can be made very easily by following just few simple steps. If properly made once, it can be stored in the fridge and can be used for making chutney, curry, and many other recipes. Let’s have a look at the process of making tamarind paste.
1. To make the tamarind paste you need to have about 250 grams of the tamarind fruit pulp. You can buy it from a grocery store or else it can be harvested from a tree. Make sure that the pulp is clean and does not contain the pieces of its hard cover.
2. Now break the tamarind into small pieces with your hand and then soak it in lukewarm water for about 2 to 3 hours. This will make the tamarind soft and then it can be easily mashed with the hands.
3. Now separate the pulp of the tamarind from the fibres by mashing it and separating the fibre or cover of the fruit. Make sure you do it slowly with your fingers, so that you do not spill the water.
4. After separating the fibres, strain the pulp with the help of a big strainer. This is the most important task and it would require some effort for separating the pulp from the seeds and fibre.
5. Make sure that your strainer has holes of decent size, this will make the process of separating a little bit easier. As you apply pressure the pulp will separate in the bowl which you have placed beneath the strainer and the fiber and seeds will be left in the strainer.
6. You will get a dense pulp after the straining and if you want to make it even denser you can boil it in the pan. This will help you to store the paste for a long time.
7. Put the separated pulp in a pan, stir and cook it on a medium flame until it becomes dense. If it splutters you can reduce the flame, keep boiling it until it turns to a thick paste.
8. Let it cool down and the store it in your fridge for further use.
Benefits and Uses of Tamarind Tree
There are many benefits and uses of the various parts of the tamarind tree. Although the tamarind tree is quite famous for its culinary uses, it has many amazing health benefits too. And the knowledge of these benefits can turn out to be quite handy for you, so let’s discuss some of these amazing benefits.
1. Tamarinds have been historically used to treat fevers and sore throats, they also help to keep away infections by strengthening the immune system and as such they ensure long-term health.
2. The tannins within the leaves of the tamarind tree help to boost the immune system, and they also increase the metabolism and assist in healthy weight loss.
3. Tamarinds are rich in fiber content, which assists in stimulating the release of gastric juices and also aids in regular digestion.
4. The leaves of the tamarind are used for adding flavor to soups, stews, and curries. They have many other uses in various cuisines all around the world.
5. The leaves and flowers of the tamarind tree can be grounded and this paste can be placed on swollen joints, sprains, boils and ulcers on skin. This helps to bring down the inflammation, and eases the pain and irritation.
6. Tamarinds are also considered very helpful in lowering the high blood pressure in the body, the potassium in the tamarinds works as a vasodilator to lower cardiovascular stress.
7. Drinking tamarind leaf tea can help those suffering with asthma; it also helps in curing cough, cold, and chest congestion.
8. The antibacterial properties of the leaves of the tamarind tree are used to reduce the spread of bacteria caused by mosquitoes and other carriers.
Tamarind Water and Its Benefits
The Process of Making Tamarind Water
Making tamarind water is quite an easy task, and it is very beneficial too for the overall health. There are many benefits of drinking tamarind water daily, we will discuss those benefits but first let’s have a look at the process of making tamarind water.
1. The first step is to remove the outer hard cover from the tamarind fruit pods, then take a pan and add water in it.
2. Let the water boil for sometime on medium flame and then put the tamarind in the boiling water. Cook the tamarinds for about 10 to 15 minutes and then remove the pan and let it cool.
3. Now put this cool mixture in a mixer and run the mixer for a minute or two, and after that sieve the mixture to separate the tamarind water from the pulp.
4. You can add some lemon juice and sugar for taste; the tamarinds have a sour flavor, so you may even add some natural sweetener such as honey to improve the flavor.
Benefits of Tamarind Water
1. The tamarind water is very beneficial for the overall health, it is especially very beneficial for the liver, and it is believed that it also helps the liver to heal from the alcohol damage.
2. Tamarind water contains high levels of tartaric acid, which is a very powerful antioxidant. It helps to kill the free radicals in the body and thus slows down the aging process.
3. Tamarind water is also very helpful for your stomach; it prevents the body from many gastric issues such as indigestion and constipation.
4. Tamarind water is also very nutritious, it contains vitamin B, C, E, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and it is also rich in fiber.
5. Tamarind stimulates the activity of bile in your body, as such, it assists your body in maintaining proper digestion.
6. Thiamine in the tamarind water helps to improve nerve function, and muscle development, it is considered an excellent drink for keeping the elderly people strong and agile.
How to Grow Tamarind Tree
Growing a tamarind tree is not a tough task, if you have the required knowledge you can easily grow the tamarind tree. It is quite easy to propagate the tamarind from its seeds. Let’s have a look at the process of the germination of tamarind seed.
1. For growing a tamarind tree you will need fresh tamarind seeds which can be directly obtained from the fresh fruit pods or else they can be bought from a local nursery, the seeds are also available online. The tamarind seeds remain viable for up to a year, that’s quite a long time, so you don’t have to worry about them losing their viability over time.
2. The tamarind seeds germinate well in well-drained soil, so you can use a soil mix of peat, garden soil, and sand. This makes sure that the soil is able to drain well.
3. You can use a simple small pot for starting the germination process. Make sure that the container has drainage holes at the bottom as well and you will also need a polythene cover to control the moisture in the container.
4. Remove the seeds from the tamarind fruit pod, and trim the border of the seeds with the help of a clipper, trim until you get to see the white part of the inside of the seed, and also make sure to trim the bottom portion of the seed, so that the root can come out easily.
5. You can also put the seed in warm water overnight to help the shell loosen up, this helps in starting the germination process.
6. Now plant the seed about an inch below the soil mix that you have prepared, then lightly water it and make sure that the water drains properly.
7. Also, make sure that the seed is covered under the soil cover, and then cover the container with the polythene to keep the moisture level high inside the container.
8. Place the pot or container in a warm sunny location with indirect sunlight because initially, the seed will not need direct sunlight, once the seed sprouts you can expose it to the direct sunlight.
9. The full germination process usually takes about two to three weeks; you will be able to see the shoot peeking out from the soil as early as seven days.
10. Make sure to keep the seed and the container warm and moist all the time, do not overwater the seed. It should not be wet, so just sprinkle some water at regular intervals.
11. You can remove the polythene as the shoot develops to a few inches, this will allow it to have better ventilation over time, and the seedling will be able to properly rise out of the soil.
12. When this seedling grows to a height of 7 to 8 inches you can transplant it to its permanent abode.