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Tamarind


KatieLoeb
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OK - I've gotten into my head that Tamarind could be a really delicious and interesting flavoring agent for cocktails. Specifically a margarita riff with tequila. I bought a can of Jumex Tamarind nectar and it's disappointingly bland. I'm a pretty good home cook but I've never messed with tamarind paste. I know where to find it but not how to reconstitute it. Do I just thin it with hot water? Maybe make a thicker tamarind juice or slurry or tamarind paste thinned with the Tamarind nectar?

The cocktail I'm seeing in my mind's eye has tequila, tamarind, lime juice and ginger simple syrup. I have the proportions worked out I just need to saturate the tamarind flavor somehow.

Any suggestions??

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
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No, that nectar is NOT what you want, Katie, it's a drink in itself!

I prepare my own tamarhindi, but I'm Syrian, and we have a unique way of describing our recipes, so bear with me!

You buy a block of tamarhindi. You can find it in a Middle Eastern market, or an Indian market, sometimes in an Asian market, too! In a Thai market sometimes it's called 'wet' tamarhindi. It's a dark block, about the size and shape of a ramen block, dark and slightly lumpy with seeds, wrapped in plastic.

You put this block in a bowl, and add very warm water. Here's the method I use to decide how much water: I start with a spoonful, and add as I mix, by spoonfuls, until the tamarhindi has the texture I'm looking for.

Just WAIT, I'll tell you the texture in a minute! First, I'll tell you how we mix it. You put your hands into the bowl and break up the tamarhindi with your fingers, discarding the seeds as you go. This takes a few minutes, be patient. You want to soften the pulp and basically you're rendering the soft bits from the pulp while you are working the stuff. OK, NOW I'll tell you about the texture. You're making a juice that looks like very thick prune juice. Once you've broken and softened all of the block, you'll have a pulpy, very thick mash. You want to grab up the pulp in your hands and squeeze it, very dry, into the bowl. Throw out the pulp, it's useless as far as I know, except for the compost. So, you're a professional, and you want to strain it, right? NO. It's done. And, it tastes so good, so much better than the bottled stuff, and it's so cheap, you'll want to use lots of it. DON'T. Use it sparingly, for best results. Now, Katie, you've got a lot of this stuff to use, make some stuffed grape leaves, to go with those drinks!

Oh, and go wash your hands.

There's also tamrhindi syrup, but I hate making it, it takes forever, and the stuff in the bottles is just as good, if it's made with sugar, and not corn syrup.

Geez, OK, I'll tell you how, but, believe me, reading it is ENOUGH, don't make it yourself.

Tamarhindi syrup is made by boiling the pulp until it is soft, in maybe 5 times the water as there is block. (Maybe 8 cups of water, maybe 10, maybe 12. Just use a 4 quart pot, and see.) Then, you let the mixture cool a bit, and you run it through cheesecloth. Then you put it back in the pot, and you add a spoonful of baking soda for every couple of cups of liquid. I do not know why, you just DO. That's what my aunties did, and that's what you and I do.

You boil the stuff down again, until it is thick and dark and glossy, and you skim it a few times, too, because scum comes up to the top, and it ain't pretty! Now, you have to strain it AGAIN, and then you add about 4 big spoonfuls of sugar for each cup of juice that you have. OK, NOW you have to boil it again, for about 15 minutes. Now, it's done. Except, of course, you have to put it 'up' in sterilized bottles, and seal them after that. UGH. Go to the market, it's WAY easier.

Listen, if ever make a new batch, I'll bring you a few bottles. Don't hold your breath, though, I'm not feeling so great right now.

Geez, that's the longest, most boring post ever. Maybe I should delete it.

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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I've purchased the tamarind paste in blocks, and have prepared it similarly as well. The only thing I'd like to add is that I've noticed a slight variance in flavors.

I picked up two blocks from the same manufacturer; the only difference being that one was lighter in color, and the other one darker, although there was no distinction of any flavor variation on the label. Yet after preparing them both side by side, I did notice that the darker one was smokier. I preferred the lighter one; the flavor seemed cleaner.

Audrey

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The cocktail I'm seeing in my mind's eye has tequila, tamarind, lime juice and ginger simple syrup.  I have the proportions worked out I just need to saturate the tamarind flavor somehow.

Any suggestions??

for what it is worth, the restaurant Tamarind on 22nd and B'way in NYC has an amazing Tamarind Margarita, very similar to what you are describing. It is also one of the best (and most expensive!) Indian restaurants in the city.

might be worth jumping on a train from Philly!

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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'll try mixing some tamarind paste with some of the not-so-flavorful tamarind nectar and then straining it.

It's not as interesting now that I'm not a wildly inventive and original genius anymore. :sad: Who knew others had beaten me to the Tequila and Tamarind grail filled with cocktails? Still, I might mess with this some more until I'm really 100% certain I'm not a genius. :raz:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I think that a drink with apricot flavors would do well with the addition of tamarhindi. One of the most popular yebra (stuffed grape leaf) recipes that I know of has dried apricots and tamarhindi in the sauce.

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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  • 2 weeks later...
for what it is worth, the restaurant Tamarind on 22nd and B'way in NYC has an amazing Tamarind Margarita, very similar to what you are describing.  It is also one of the best (and most expensive!) Indian restaurants in the city.

might be worth jumping on a train from Philly!

For a better (in my opinion, of course) tamarind margarita, try Danny Meyer's Tabla restuarant. Don't know proportions, but I believe they use gold tequila, cointreau, tamarind juice, and orange juice (maybe lime juice too?). Bartender told me they extract the juice from the tamarind fruit. It's my favorite margarita in the city... it's $$ at $12, but hey, I'm worth it :wink:

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