Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tamarind Extract ~ Indian Basics Step by Step Recipe!

Did you miss me? Ok rather I missed talking about a really new dish that I prepared in a while. I was flipping through the posts and thought I haven't really tried many new dishes in recent times. The fact is, we trending on hectic periods in life. You ask when I don't say that? Well that is true too. I almost feel we are doing a rat race. Now don't ask me when I saw a rat running. Come home, I can show you many.

On Sunday, during the early hours of morning when we got up to get ready for a temple visit, hubby dear and I were sipping our precious coffee, we saw a rat making a bee line from the PC to a huge doll. Imagine this is the PC that I am right now tapping my legs against and that rat could be well cursing me for disturbing it. But really, I am trying not to get worried whether the rat is going to bite me or any of the numerous cables lying around! But imagine our shock seeing that! We just thought couple of weeks back that we saw the last of the rats at home. I know this is the first time I am talking about the rats, story for another day.

Anyway we finally started for the temple by 6.30 am, didn't take the boys as they were down with cold and cough since Saturday. They are much better now but didn't want to tax them. They were happy resting with Athamma, not that they knew we left them behind. They happily thought we went to office. It was only Konda and us making the trip. We couldn't have asked for a better day. The climate was perfect and was so cool. We almost expected it to be very sunny, but there was a forecast of cyclone, so we were trilled traveling through a cool December morning.

The temple was a 3 hr drive, half way of which you will be trying to navigate through the traffic. The other half takes you through a kaleidoscope of scenes, the beautiful India in its essence, the villages, the breathtaking beauty of the crops, the innocent children playing on the streets, the men idling away under the trees, the woman busy with their chores. Can anything be more beautiful than this? Yes acres and acres of green all over. Infact I felt my eyes couldn't take all of it. All shades of green, so much infact divine!

My love for green can fit many posts, so its suffice to say I had an overdose of my love. While I can ramble on and on, I am sure you will get impatient and want to know whats today's recipe is about.

Update: This post was scheduled for Monday, when I was seen very anxious about my boys interview. But somehow I missed the schedule. So finally today with much relaxed mind, happy with the boys interviews done very well. Our boys made us feel very proud by answering all questions, except for asserting apple to be tomato...:)..I loved their confidence in nodding their heads to say it was indeed a tomato!

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Ok back to the topic on hand, it's not a recipe on its own but one of the basic ingredient needed for Indian cooking. The Tamarind extract or pulp. This is the most frequent and sought out one in my pantry. We infact stock it in bulk and I am sure I will be lost if I can't get hold of this.

In Tamil Nadu, you have a wide range of dishes made with tamarind as the base, so imagine its importance. Previously when I used to make Rasam or Sambar, I normally soak 30 mins before squeezing the life out of the poor tamarind. But now whether it really saves me time or not, I though I save myself some moments of anxiety by automating the process. Yes, I soak a big ball size tamarind and really really squeeze it till its last breath and store it in the frige for a week's use. Of course before making sure it is really flat, I mean by cooking it.

I thought I would share some of the basic antics I do around the kitchen these days...I am sure many of you must be already doing this or know of this. Yet it is for those of you, who could get some idea on being vanity struck on the fact of saving some minutes!



As I said there is really no recipe, just take a big ball of tamarind and wash once in water. Then soak in water for 30 minutes or as long as you can forget it.

Then if you have a good arm, (or if you want to vent your anger at somebody, imagine they are within your fist!..:)) just squeeze well to extract maximum juice out of it. You can add water and continue doing it till you feel you have really done with it. Throw away the waste.




In a thick bottom pan, pour this water and bring to boil. Again you can have this on stove and forget yourself in better things to do.



Obviously it will continue to boil till it can reach the end, at this stage you will see a really thick paste like in the picture. I know clicking these were the hardest thing to do. They never came out well. Finally hubby dear came to rescue, so you have him to thank for pictures.


The final product will be a thick paste. Cool it and then store it in a bottle. This can be refrigerated for more than two weeks, if it lasts that many days. It normally lasts me for a week.


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Previously I used to extract just the water and store, it used to get fermented. Now after boiling and making a thick paste and refrigerated, all you need to take is just a spoon for either Rasam or Sambar.

If you feel you need to increase the shelf life you can add turmeric and salt. But I haven't found the need. Even after 2 weeks, I have found it to be fresh.

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23 comments :

indosungod said...

Valli, a very good method for storing tamarind. I am curious which temple did you visit. All temples the old ones especially have an aura about them that is truly divine.

Divya Vikram said...

Glad to know kids did well in the interview. Never knew we could tamarind extract at home.

RV said...

What a coincidence Srivalli, my Mom gave me this tip last week... was thinking of posting it...

Jennifer said...

Srivalli this is a very important post- especially for those new to South Indian cooking (Indian cooking too, I suppose). I actually have never done this, too. I usually soak a small golf-ball size tamarind in hot water, and like you, after 30 minutes squeeze the life of it, and put the juice in the sambar or rasam or kozhumbu! So when you make the paste like this- how much would you add to a pot of sambar- 1 teaspoon?

Prasi said...

srivalli i was wondering if you know a non toxic way to clean stainless steel cookware..thanks

Priya said...

Glad that ur boys did well their interview, tamarind extract sounds interesting..

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips about tamarind extract. I am sure going to try your method. It seems so easy. Thanks.

Radha

beachbirdie said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful post!

I have not done any cooking with real tamarind because I never knew quite what to do with it. Your pictures show me exactly what things should look like at every step.

This is so helpful, as we did not grow up with people in our lives to show us these new and wonderful things!

It is somewhat humorous that tamarind is what started my interest in Indian cooking. My husband works with many people from India, and they go often to a local Indian restaurant. My husband came home one day telling me about a delicious tamarind chutney he had eaten and asked if I could make it.

I've cooked many other things, but never got around to the tamarind chutney! Now I think I will give it a try!

Silpa said...

Nice tips. I too make this but little bit different. Instead of extracting juice, i make it as a thick paste. It lasts for 2months for me..

Ms.Chitchat said...

Enjoyed your write up. I extract Tamarind on a need-to basis. This is a good idea, will definitely do this in future. Thanx for sharing.

Chitchat

Divya Kudua said...

Hey that is such a nice post Valli..I always struggle with tamarind extract whenever I am making Rasam or Sambhar coz I soak it the last minute and I am not happy with the results.Boiling and storing it would be of great use to me..:).

Loved reading through the interview thingy..lol:)

About the rat..eeks,I found one in my kitchen too and I am plotting and planning against it..thinking of keeping a glue trap..but who will take it outside..eeeks!!

lata raja said...

Agree I would be lost if my pantry did not stock tamarind. Initial days in Egypt I didn't find and when Rex our American friend called on me, I told him "we don't get basic groceries such as tamarind" He said, "well, basic for you, I wouldn't know" :) I keep pulp in the fridge too. Comes handy!

Shobana said...

such a useful post srivalli..thank you..

umsreflections said...

Oh !!! I've never stocked tamarind paste or pulp. Always do it fresh.

But this seems so much time saving, on a hurried morning cooking.

Thanks for the tip !!!!

jayasree said...

I always go for the fresh pulp. I soak in hot water the first thing in the morning if I need it for the day's cooking.

Recently read abt this in a magazine supplement. Definitely helpful for those in hurry.

CanDid said...

శ్రీవల్లి గారు

మీ బ్లాగు చక్కగా వుంది
ఒక ప్రశ్న: పొద్దున్న వండిన పప్పు/కూర ఎన్ని రోజులు రేఫ్రిజిరేటరూ లో వుంచచ్చు

sangeeta said...

Hi Srivalli..
read in detail about your rats and the early morning temple visit ...i love early morning drives and i feel temples have a special vibration ...i was waiting for that in your write up n you moved to tamarind ...:)
that's good too...i do the short cut in many ways n yes it saves time if you have it handy...

Srivalli said...

Thank you everybody. I am glad this was useful

CanDid, I refrigerate only cooked toor dal or pappu, for about 4 -5 days not more than that. But it again depends on how you cook and store it. I will be doing a post on that

Rajani said...

hi, this is such a great idea, and so convinient.

Anupama said...

A very nice post... this is a sure time-saver!

Srivalli said...

Indo, its a temple down near to Tindivanam. I agree to that, and this one is especially quite old.

Jennifer, for 1 cup of toor dal, abt 1 -2 tsp depending on tomatoes.

Prasi I am not really sure abt that..sorry..

beachbirdieI am so glad you found this useful. Interesting to note abot how your interest started!..:))..

shifa firoz said...

thnx a lot dear... this will be very useful now as im craving for sanbaar and rasams!! :)

Pavitra Venkat said...

i have two other ways of making tamarind extract.
1. For thicker pulp and storing for 2-3 months in the fridge: http://whatscookin2day.blogspot.com/2010/05/making-tamarind-paste-at-home.html

2. To instantly extract tamarind juice - In a small microwave-safe bowl, put the required amount of tamarind with little water and put in microwave for 1-1.5 minutes. The tamarind would tenderize and extracting juice is just child's play.

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