The tamarind has been mentioned a number of times here on this blog, but has been the star attraction in only one post to date (in which it played a major role in a preserve). The other star of that story was Mark Twain, whose famous words on his co-star are worth repeating:-
I thought tamarinds were made to eat, but that was probably not the idea. I ate several, and it seemed to me that they were rather sour that year. They pursed up my lips, till they resembled the stem-end of a tomato, and I had to take my sustenance through a quill for twenty-four hours. They sharpened my teeth till I could have shaved with them, and gave them a "wire edge" that I was afraid would stay; but a citizen said "no, it will come off when the enamel does" - which was comforting, at any rate. I found, afterward, that only strangers eat tamarinds - but they only eat them once.
Tamarind is not the star ingredient in many dishes, but is most commonly used to add an acid note to a dish. I did find some recipes in which the tamarind is very prominent in the book which was the source of the story on taro a few weeks ago – How to use Hawaiian fruit and food products (Honolulu, 1912.)
This is what this book says on the tamarind:-
The tamarind contains a laxative and cooling quality which makes it of value in cases of illness.
1. Shell tamarind, and cover with water. Let soak several hours; then take the water from tamarinds, dilute with fresh water, and sweeten to taste.
2. To make drink quickly. Place 10 or 12 shelled tamarinds in a 2 qt. pitcher filled with water. Stir well, and add sugar to taste.
1. Shell tamarinds. Place layer in jar, and cover with sugar. Repeat until jar is filled; then seal. Use candy boxes in same way, placing paraffin paper between layers of tamarinds.
2. Shell tamarinds and press tightly together in form of ball. Cover with cloth. An easy way to carry them in traveling, in which they will keep for years.
3. Make syrup of equal measures sugar and water. Boil tamarinds in this, and pour into jars to be kept for drinks.
TAMARIND AND PAPAYA.
Cook 1 c of shelled tamarinds in little water until soft. Strain pulp through colander. Add to tamarind pulp, 1 qt. papaya pulp and 1 c sugar. Cook 30 or 45 min.
TAMARIND AND BANANA.
Make the same as above, using tamarind in place of the papaya.
½ lb. tamarinds ½ lb. dates
½ lb. green ginger ½ lb. raisins
½ LB. onions ¼ lb. chili peppers
4 tbsp brown sugar 2 tbsp salt
Pound all with vinegar, and rub through a sieve. Bottle and seal.