When we were riding through a Sri Lankan village on a bullock cart some years ago, the rider suddenly dismounted and ran off leaving us stranded on a narrow mud track.
He reappeared shortly, grinning broadly as he shoved a handful of brown pods towards us. Ah! He had gone to pluck some fruits growing in abundance on the wild tamarind trees with bright green, pinnate foliage that is dense and feathery in appearance.
Back home, we usually use the preserved sour pulp for curries but had no idea what to do with these freshly harvested ones that day. He broke the pod open and popped some of the succulent pulp in his mouth. We tried some gingerly, unable to appreciate the strangely sweet and sour taste.
When I was in Thailand recently, my friend bought some fresh tamarind in the market. I tried one and fell in love with the sweet chewy pulp.
So I was overjoyed when I found some in the supermarket this morning. Now I am enjoying this as a snack. It's healthy too!
When fully ripe, the shells are brittle and easily broken. The pulp dehydrates to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse stands of fiber. The pulp has a pleasing sweet/sour flavor and is high in both acid and sugar. It is also rich in vitamin B and high in calcium.