Right, I know. Tequila.
You’re saying to yourself, “I don’t drink tequila. See, there was this one time in college and all I remember is I woke up on that grassy patch in front of the Mechanical Engineering building when the sprinkler started and hit me in the face and somehow my underwear was on the flagpole and I was wearing fuzzy pink teddy bear slippers. No, they weren’t my slippers. Why would I have teddy bear slippers?!”
Oh, just me?
Moving on, then.
Tamarind is a tropical fruit with a sweet-sour flavor. It grows on trees (tamarind trees!) in big pods that look a lot like fava beans with a nice tan. Culinarily, we use the pulp that surrounds the seeds within these pods. Tamarind is extensively used by people in most hot-weather climates – you’ll find it in cuisines from Mexican to Indian to Thai.
Tamarind makes a refreshing beverage, either on it’s own diluted with water or mixed up with lime and – should collegiate memories allow – tequila.
How To Make Tamarind Simple Syrup
Tamarind is typically available at well stocked urban or Latin-American and Asian-catering markets. You can also buy it online but if you live in a city with any Southeast Asian or Latin-American population to speak of it’ll be cheaper locally.
I find it as a ready-to-go liquid concentrate and as a brick of pulp about the texture of firm clay. The concentrate is easy to work with but I like the flavor I get from the dried pulp better. It looks like this:
To make tamarind simple syrup, combine a knob of dried tamarind pulp about the size of a golf ball with a cup of water and a cup of sugar in a small saucepan. (To make unsweetened tamarind extract, just leave out the sugar.)
Bring the tamarind, sugar and water to a simmer and, as the tamarind softens, break it up with a fork.
Reduce heat to low and barely simmer for about fifteen minutes. You want the tamarind pulp to completely soften without losing too much water to evaporation.
Strain tamarind syrup through a fine sieve and push as much pulp as possible through the sieve.
Make sure to scrape the bottom of the sieve to get all that good pulp into the tamarind syrup.
At this point you have a sweetened tamarind syrup, which can be mixed with water or club soda for a very refreshing non-alcoholic beverage.
Or, use it to make maybe the best margarita variation ever.
The Tamarind Tequila Rita
- 1 oz. tamarind simple syrup
- 1.5 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- .25 oz. Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 2 oz. good quality tequila
If desired, run a wedge of lime around the rim of a margarita or large wine glass. Dip rim into sugar and set aside.
Shake all ingredients together with finely cracked ice and pour into prepared glass. Alternatively, blend.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
Enjoy responsibly and keep your underwear off the flagpole.
Happy weekend, guys!0
Betsy True says
Erica, you make mixed drinks look so appetizing. I’ve never drunk the hard stuff, but might try some.
Well, I don’t drink, so you can keep the tequila, but the tamarind syrup? 😀 I love Sweet & Spicy Rinag sauce (which is tamarind sauce for samosas), so I imagine tamarind syrup would have many uses in my kitchen (like maybe drizzled over good vanilla ice cream?).
I started wondering about tamarind popsicles.
Thank you. You make me feel better about myself. 🙂
Unless that’s a monster size fork and burner (first pic after the graphic of the tamarind paste), that little mini-skillet/saute pan (I clearly don’t know what it’s really called) looks tiny and super convenient for some tasks. Could you share the manufacturer and/or size and/or a link to it? It may be going on my Christmas list.
Sure thing. It’s an All Clad 1-Quart Saucier Pan, and it’s one of the most versatile little pans in my collection. It has a rounded bottom, which is good for situations where you have to whisk a lot, or where you are trying to reduce something down, or where you just don’t need a large-volume piece of cookware. I prefer the stainless line of All Clad because they are cheaper (relative to the copper lines, etc.) and dishwasher safe.
I have this saucepan too…it’s the one I use the most! I highly recommend it.
Summer Mendoza says
Oh, Tamarind is so delicious! They also sell the whole pods in some grocery produce sections, or Hispanic food sections. (A little more work..) Just sweetened Tamarind water, by itself is delicious and super refreshing. So is sweetened Hibiscus flower water, (Probably could make a yummy cocktail from that too.) Thanks for mentioning this rarely mentioned product Erica! 🙂
Summer Mendoza says
I forgot to say that if you get the whole pods, the woody seeds are incredibly beautiful and large, good for a craft project..
Do you mind letting us know what ratios you might use if you already had the concentrate in your house to get the right sweet/sour play in the syrup?
Sure. Based on the concentrate I have, 1 tablespoon concentrate + 1 tablespoon sugar or a bit more + 2 tablespoons hot water (so the sugar melts) tastes about right to me, so I’d start with that ratio and adjust to your taste. You’re looking for a balanced sweet-tart flavor, not too puckery.
I really enjoy your site, lot of good info even for me down in Oklahoma. I only mention that because gardening is weather wise different in my area of south east OK. learning a lot of ideas from your site. thank you. and the tequila drink sounds really good, but being a typical male I thought the flag pole thing was cute:}
OMG Erica – I actually laughed out loud at the beginning of your post. The whole waking up on the grassy patch so caught me off guard. I’ve been giggling about it all morning. Thanks for the laugh.
But more importantly, I learned something! I never even heard of tamarind before. Now I want to try the syrup. 🙂
A friend made these for Easter. They were delicious! Thanks for the great recipe.