(Tamarindo, Tamarin, Imali, Chinch)
The tamarind is a tropical tree found throughout Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, though it is native to eastern Africa. The fruit of the tamarind tree is shaped like a pod -- resembling a peanut -- and has a rough, dark brown skin. Tamarind is used in Ayurvedic medicine and has many applications in folk medicine. In parts of Asia, the leaves of the tree are brewed into a tea that is believed to aid malaria patients. The fruit or extract of the tamarind tree is used to treat digestive and gastric problems.
The ripe fruit of the tamarind has a very sweet flavour that is well-suited for use in desserts and drinks. In contrast, the under-ripe fruit has a delicate, tart taste that is popular as a flavorant. Tamarind is used as a tangy base in sauces, chutneys and curries and is the major ingredient in Worcester and HP sauce. It is also made into sweet beverages in countries as diverse as Egypt and Mexico.