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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tamarind Margarita



















Our trip to Florida and Mexico inspired me to post this recipe on my blog. We had a chance to try variety of margarita's over them, some of my favorite ones were Guava and Tamarind. You can use same recipe to make Guava margarita, just substitute the Tamarind paste with guava nectar except you will not have to cook the guava nectar.

Let me tell you little bit about Tamarind. It is one of mine and most of the Indian girl's favorite food. Outside of most schools campus in India, the street vendors sell variety of spicy and tart treats made from tamarind and spices (chooran goli, sugar coated spicy tamarind balls, etc etc...and one of the most popular sauce is tamarind chutney used as condiment with various Indian snacks.

When I saw the Tamarind Margarita on a Menu in one of the restaurants in Florida, my eyes lit up and and my mouth started salivating instantly taking me back to childhood memories and nostalgia.

The reddish brown, curved seed pods of a lovely tropical tree hold several large seeds encased by moist, sticky, dark brown flesh that varies from being very sweet to very sour. The latter is used as one of the primary souring agents in Thai, Indian, Mexican, Caribbean and Middle eastern cooking, imparting a delicious fruity tartness to soups, salads, stir-fries and sauces.

The large lacy-leaf trees are common in the tropics the world over. The tamarind pod is oblong and curved in shape and looks much like the seed pod of many large flowering trees. When young, the pods are green and fleshy. As they ripen, they turn reddish brown and become brittle on the outside; inside, the rich, dark brown flesh of the fruit is moist and sticky, enveloping a row of bean-like seeds. Because of its widespread habitat and easy cultivation, tamarind has found its way into the cuisines of many countries around the world, from the African and Asian continents to the tropical Americas.

Native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, the tamarind tree was known to the ancient Egyptians, and taken to India so long ago even botanists thought it was native there. From India it was introduced to Persia and the Arab world, thus Arabic "tamar hindi" (Indian date). It is now planted throughout the tropics and sub-tropics including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and southern Florida.

Tamarind fruit pulp is an important flavoring for food and beverages worldwide and is an important ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, HP Sauce (UK and Canada) and Jamaican Pickapeppa sauce.


Here is my recipe for a sweet, sour and spicy Tamarind Margarita with an extra kick.

Ingredients:


* 1/4 block of seedless Tamarind pulp (3-4 oz) (see below)

* 2 cups of water

* 1/2 cup of brown sugar

* 2 tablespoon granualted sugar (or to taste)

* 1 cup tequila

* 2 cups Ice cubes

* 3/4 cup fresh lime juice

* 1/2 cup Cointreau or Triple sec

* 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice

* 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

* 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

* 1 teaspoon of mango powder (amchoor)

* 1/2 teaspoon of black salt or can use chaat masala (available at Indian Grocers)

* 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder

* 4 lime wedges



Method:

* In a saucepan, soak the tamarind in water for 1 hour. (can omit this step if you don't have time)

* Simmer Tamarind and water over low heat, stirring, until the pulp dissolves.
Let the mixture cool.

* Then with bare gloved hands break off the pulp and separate the fibers and take out any seeds (even the seedless block of pulp contains seeds at times)

* Strain the liquid so all the fibers and seeds get separated.

* In this thick strained liquid add brown sugar and mix well until sugar is dissolved.

* Add tequila, 1/2 cup of the lime juice, Cointreau or Triple sec, orange juice and the ice.

* Puree the mix in blender.

* Mix salt, roasted cumin powder, chaat masala, mango powder, black salt and cayenne pepper powder.

* Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of lime juice in a flat dish and the salt/cumin powder and cayenne pepper mixture into two separate bowl.

* Dip the rims and upper sides of of 4 glasses first in the lime juice, and then in the salt-chili-cumin mixture.

* If you have time you can chill these glasses in fridge before serving.

* Fill the glasses with margarita and garnish with the lime wedges if desired and sprinkle some of the chili-cumin-salt mix on top of margarita.



Tamarind pulp is sold in a dense block that can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a year and are available at your local Indian, Spanish, Middle Eastern or Asian grocers.


Recipe and Photographs by Surekha

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