Originally from tropical Africa and grown for so long in India that it is often considered indigenous, tamarind is one of the most highly prized natural foods in Asia. Having migrated to FNQ with European settlement, we are lucky to find it fresh on occasion in local markets. It is ubiquitous in all Asian cuisine, particularly as a flavour enhancement in sauces, dressings and dips. Nearly every meat and fish dish has a version with a tamarind dressing. Like many ancient foods, tamarind has a long history of medicinal use. It is worth a little research, as an antidote to many modern ailments. Rich in tartaric acid (the sour flavour), tamarind is a powerful anti-oxidant, packed with minerals and vital vitamins including thiamine, niacin, A, C and riboflavin. Fortunately, if you don’t know where to look in a local market, most supermarkets will have processed pastes, sauces and concentrates. Start with an easy baked vegetable dish, or as a sauce on local fish or prawns. The flavour grows on you and it won’t be long before you are foraging for fresh. 2 teaspoons tamarind puree 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon hot water 250g cherry tomatoes, quartered 1/2 Lebanese cucumber, finely chopped 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 1/2 long fresh green chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
Combine the tamarind puree, sugar and water in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt. Combine the tomato, cucumber, onion and chilli in a medium bowl. Add the tamarind mixture and toss to combine. Add the coriander and stir until just combined. Serve.