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All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

Tamarind is known as Imli in Hindi

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) is the only im­por­tant spice of African origin. Today, it is a much-valued food in­gre­dient in many Asian or Latin Ameri­can recipes.

The sour and fruity taste of imli merges well with the heat of chillies and gives many South Indian dishes their hot and sour character, and their dark colour.

In India, imli is mostly com­bined with meat or legumes (lentils, chick peas or beans). The pulp is sold dry and must be soaked before usage. Only the water is then added to the food.

The pulp of ripe fruit of Imli tree is commonly used as condiment in many Indian dishes particularly South Indian dishes.

In India, Thailand, Southern Europe and Latin America, tamarind is a popular cooking and condiment flavour.

The tree originated in Africa, but now it is cultivated mainly in South India and in the Caribbean.

Arabs are believed to have called it “date of India”; the English word date is related to “dactyl”, the Latin word for finger, which applies to the pod of the imli tree more than to the fruit of the date palm.

What are the other names of Tamarind?

Imli or Calamus names in other languages are given below.
Indian Languages Other Languages
Hindi: Imli
Bengali: Tentul
Gujarati:
Amli
Kannada: Huli
Malayalam
: Puli, Valanpuli
Marathi: Chinch
Punjabi:
Imli
Sanskrit:
Tintiri, Amli 
Tamil:
Puli
Telugu:
Chintapandu
Latin (Botanical): Tamarindus indica L.
Arabic: Tamr al-hindi
Chinese:
Da ma lin
Dutch:
Tamarinde
English: Tamarind
French:
Tamarin
German: Tamarinde
Italian: Tamarindo
Spanish: Tamarindo
Swedish
: Tamarindfrukt

What exactly is Tamarind?

Get to know more about Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

Spice Card – All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

Tamarindus indica is a large perennial tree often cultivated as ornamental and shade tree, for its valued timber and for its edible fruits.

The botanical name of the tree is Tamarindus indica Linn. and it belongs to the family “Caesalpini­aceae”​ (a tropic family closely related to the bean family).

Tropical Imli tree has a short massive trunk, ferny pinnate leaves, small yellow flowers and fat reddish brown pods. It is a moderate size to large, evergreen tree.

The leaves are about 10 in (25.4 cm) long with 10-18 pairs of 1 in (2.5 cm) oblong leaflets. Imli drops its leaves in pronounced dry seasons; in climates without a dry season it stays evergreen.

The flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) across, pale yellow with purple or red veins.  The velvety cinnamon brown pods are 2-6 in (5.1-15.2 cm) long, sausage shaped & constricted between the seeds.

The ripe pods of the tree are used as a condiment. Com­mon­ly, the pulp of ripe pods is ex­tracted in water to yield tamar­ind water. The pulp is both sweet and extremely sour.

Because of the imli’s many uses, cultivation has spread around the world, mostly in tropical and subtropical zones.

What is the nutritional value of Tamarind?

Find out about the nutritional value of Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

Tamarind is a very valuable commodity in the world because of its nutritional components.

These include a significant level of vitamin C, E, and B, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, manganese and dietary fibre.

If you eat 100 grams of imli a day, you will get 36% of thiamin, 35% of iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of phosphorus recommended for you daily.

It also has plenty of niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine. There are also a number of organic compounds that make imli a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

What is the chemical composition of Tamarind?

Know and understand about chemical composition of Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

The fruits contain about 30% pulp, 40% seeds, and 30% hull. The pulp is rich in sugar (30%–40%). It also contains 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat.

This comes with a total of 287 calories, almost all of which are from sugar.

A single cup (120 grams) of the pulp contains: Magnesium: 28% of the RDI , Potassium: 22% of the RDI, Iron: 19% of the RDI, Calcium: 9% of the RDI, Phosphorus: 14% of the RDI

Its vitamin content is Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 34% of the RDI, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 11% of the RDI, Vitamin B3 (niacin): 12% of the RDI.

What is the history of Tamarind?

Know more about the origins & the story behind Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

In Hindu mythology, Imli is associated with the wedding of the god Krishna which is celebrated by a feast in November.

Imli made its way to India millenniums ago. Wood charcoal analysis shows us that the tamarind was found in Narhan, in the Ganga valley, by 1300 BC, and also in the pre/early Harappan period in Haryana.

The Brahma Samhita scriptures, dating back to between 1200 BC and 200 BC, also talk of the imli. Down south, a copper plate inscription of 819 AD mentions an imli tree named Mahamadhu.

The Arabs, who had trade relations with India as early as 600 AD gave it the name Tamar-i-Hind (date fruit of India) because of the brown fruit that resembled dates.

It is believed that the species name, ‘indica’, was given by Linnaeus, from this derivation in Arabic. The name ‘indica’ leads to the common misconception that the tree originated in India.

The tree was a favourite with the Mughal rulers. Babur, who established the Mughal Empire in India, described the imli as a ‘very good-looking tree, giving dense shade’ in Babur Nama.

In Akbar’s time, the fruit (called ambli) was economically valued and sold in the market. Tamarind trees were planted by the Mughals in cemeteries and mausoleums, and around settlements.

A particularly iconic tree was planted at the tomb of Tansen (the incomparable musician who formed a key part of Emperor Akbar’s court) in Gwalior, visited by musicians who wished to pay homage.

Sher Shah Suri and Jahangir planted trees along Grant Trunk Road, favouring a mix of the imli and mango, to provide shade and fruit to weary travellers.

The nawabs of Awadh also planted the tree along main roads in their kingdom. In a village in Bijapur, an 890-year-old imli tree planted during the time of King Adil Shah still survives.

From the Indian subcontinent, it was probably moved east into the rest of tropical and subtropical Asia and the islands of the Pacific. In Hawaii, one of the first tamarind trees was planted in 1797.

Early in the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese colonists introduced T. indica to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean.

Currently, it is often grown as a shade and fruit tree along roadsides and in yards and parks across tropical America.

There are also commercial plantings in Mexico, Central American countries and in Brazil.

What are the uses of Tamarind?

How is Imli used?
  • Tamarinds are grown as ornamental shade and street trees, and for the edible pods.
  • The pods are fed to livestock, and the pulp within the pods is used to make beverages, curries, chutneys and sauces.
  • Imli pulp is made into a soft drink known as refresco de tamarindo in Latin America, and tamarinade in Jamaica. It’s also the basis of a popular drink in the Middle East.
  • Tamarind is used extensively in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine, and is an important ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
  • Imli juice is used to pickle fish in India.
  • Several medicinal uses of tamarind are reported in Grieve’s A Modern Herbal.
  • The fruit is said to improve digestion, relieve gas, soothe sore throats, and act as a mild laxative.

Imli tree is a beautiful, fine textured tree and it makes an excellent shade tree in large landscapes. It often is planted in public parks and as an avenue tree in tropical cities.

What does Tamarind taste like?

What is the the taste of Imli?

The taste of imli ranges from a sweet and sour to a tangy and tart flavour.

The wide range in taste is owed to how ripe the tamarind is. The more mature and ripe the fruit is, the sweeter. However, the less ripe the fruit is, the sourer it tastes.

Imli has a gummy, sticky texture similar to a date. Its taste is bold and commanding – there are no subtle, subdued flavors or lingering aftertastes.

Imli offer an explosive, tart flavor similar to a sweet-and-sour candy sold to kids. If tasting the sour type, expect a puckering sensation akin to eating a lemon or ornamental orange.

How Much Tamarind Should I Use?

What is the the recommended quantity of Imli for a day?
  • Add a spoonful or so of unsweetened pulp at the last moment to a mix of sautéed vegetables for a refreshingly acidic finish.
  • Dissolve 2 tablespoons of sweetened imli nectar in 2 cups of cold water, add ice, and a wedge of lemon for a Mexican-style agua fresca.

Tamarind or Imli


What are the ayurvedic properties of Tamarind?

Information about ayurvedic details of Imli (Tamarindus indica L.).

Rasa (Taste): Madura (sweet), Pungent (sour)
Guna (Qualities): Dry, Guru (Heavy to digest)
Veerya (Potency): Usna (Hot)
Vipaka (Taste conversion after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Karma (Actions): Balances kapha and vata dosha.


What can I use Tamarind for?

Learn how to use Imli (Tamarindus indica L.) in your food & beverages.
  • The sour pulp is often used for curries and sauces as a souring agent. In some cases, tamarind pulp gets folded into curry and chutney recipes as a sort of cranberry/raisin substitute.
  • The sweet pulp is processed for jams, sweets and the occasional soup (or rasam) recipe.
  • Make imli ki chutney by simmering the pulp with dates, ginger, sugar, and earthy spices like cumin.
  • South Americans, Central Americans and those in the Caribbean make popular sodas and juices. Ghana, for instance, adds sugar and honey to tamarind pulp for its version of the sweet beverages.
  • To make an Imli cooler, simply boil water and add it to a base of dissolved sugar, tamarind pulp and lemon juice. Add additional flavours as desired, such as mint and ginger.
  • In Mexico, the sour pulp gets sweetened with sugar and rolled in chili powder for caramel apples and chewy candy.
  • Imli kernels contain a gel-forming substance that may be useful as a stabilizer for mayonnaise, jams, ice cream, soups and sauces
  • The imli seed may be ground into flour for use in baked goods and pastries.
  • Imli is the base of several barbeque sauces, thanks to its earthy, sweet-and-sour taste.
  • You can make a barbeque glaze by adding tamarind paste or concentrate with honey, soy sauce, cumin, ginger, and black pepper.

How do I prepare Tamarind for food?

Learn how to prepare Imli (Tamarindus indica L.) in your food & beverages.

You may add it in its many forms to any meal of your choice. Its available as follows:

  • Raw pods – In this form, the imli has undergone the least amount of processing. Here, the pods are still intact. So, you only need to open the cocoon and remove the tamarind pulp.
  • Pressed block – Here, the shells and seeds of the tamarind fruit are no longer together. The resulting pulp is then compressed, under high pressure, into a block.
  • Tamarind Concentrate – Concentrates of imli have undergone boiling. Through evaporation, the water content drastically reduces to give tamarind in high concentrations.

How long does Tamarind last?

Learn about how long does Imli (Tamarindus indica L.) last in storage.

You can store whole pods in a cool, dark place that is at room temperature (a pantry works fine). The pods can usually last an extended period this way, years even.

Imli is at the peak of flavour if eaten within a week once harvested. If you are planning to consume it within a short time, store it with the shell on at room temperature in a cool area for a week.

The flavour of the imli begins to diminish when left at room temperature after 7 days.

To prolong the freshness for upto 3 months, imli should be refrigerated in an airtight container or resealable food safe bag in the refrigerator away from moisture.

How do I store Tamarind?

Learn about how to store Imli (Tamarindus indica L.).

Imli pods are low-maintenance fruit: even at room temperature, they will keep for a month.

Store homemade pulp by blending it with salt and placing the concoction in an airtight container. Imli paste keeps for years in dry conditions.

To reduce any probability of mold and spoilage, consider freezing the paste in ice cube trays and popping them out as needed.

Is there a substitute for Tamarind?

Learn how to use a substitute for Imli (Tamarindus indica L.) if unavailable
  • A popular alternative is to use lime juice (or sometimes white wine or rice vinegar) mixed with an equal quantity of light brown sugar as a substitute for imli. If you use vinegar, avoid strongly flavoured types like balsamic vinegar.
  • Mango powder is also known as amchur or amchoor and has a similar flavour to tamarind in that both are tart and slightly sweet.
  • Pomegranate molasses – Use exactly the same amount of pomegranate molasses that your recipe indicates for imli.

Where do I buy Tamarind from?

Where to Locate Imli (Tamarindus indica L.) in the Grocery Store?

Imli paste is sold in a plastic container or a bag. Since the paste is strong and condensed, one pack will last you for a long time.

The paste can be found in most of the Asian food stores or Indian grocers. It can also be purchased online fairly easily.

What are the health benefits of Tamarind?

Learn about health benefits of Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

The following are health benefits of Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) or Imli

  • Health Benefits of Tamarind as an Antioxidant – The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Health Benefits of Imli as an Antimicrobial Agent – Tamarind extract contains natural compounds that have antimicrobial effects. In fact, studies show that this plant may have anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity. It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases like malaria.
  • Health Benefits of Tamarind for Weight Loss – Tamarind is rich in fibre and has no fat content. Studies suggest that eating tamarind daily might actually help in weight reduction since it contains flavonoids and polyphenols.
  • Health Benefits of Imli to Combat Diabetes – Tamarind seed extracts are anti-inflammatory in nature and they are even said to stabilize blood sugar levels and reverse the damage of the pancreatic tissue in those suffering from diabetes.
  • Health Benefits of Tamarind for Digestion – Tamarind has been used since ancient times as a laxative because of its tartaric acid, malic acid, and potassium content.
  • Health Benefits of Imli for your Heart – Tamarind is a very heart-friendly fruit. Flavonoids present in tamarind lower LDL or  “bad” cholesterol and raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, thus preventing the build-up of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood.
  • Health Benefits of Tamarind for Your Liver – A diet rich in calories leads to a fatty liver and studies suggest that daily consumption of tamarind extracts can reverse this condition.
  • Health Benefits of Imli for Allergies – It is an effective way to deal with allergic asthma and cough because of its antihistamine properties. It’s also a rich source of vitamin C and can boost the immune system to prevent cold and cough.
  • Health Benefits of Tamarind for Your Skin – The pulp of tamarind fruit has been used as a natural skin scrub since the olden days. It promotes smoother and lighter skin because of the presence of alpha-hydroxyl acids (AHAs).
  • Health Benefits of Tamarind for Hypertension And Promote Heart Health – The dried pulp of tamarind fruits was found to have anti-hypertensive effects. Tamarind pulp has been found to reduce diastolic blood pressure at a dose of 15 mg/kg body weight.

Imli has proven anti-venom properties. It is widely used as a remedy against snake bites in India. Its extract prevents edema, hemorrhage, and rapid blood clotting in victims.

Moreover, imli seeds can inhibit several enzymes that are involved in venom response in your body.


Print

Tamarind Paste Recipe | Imli Ka Paste | Homemade Tamarind Paste Recipe

Tamarind Paste Recipe | Imli Ka Paste | Homemade Tamarind Paste - Learn how to make homemade tamarind paste. Making Homemade tamarind paste is very easy and has a very long shelf life. It's worth the effort and can come in handy in everyday cooking. Here is how to do it.
Course Condiment, Paste
Cuisine Indian
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Homemade Tamarind Paste Recipe, Imli, Imli Ka Paste Recipe, Imlie Ka Paste, Tamarind, Tamarind Paste, Tamarind Paste Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 1 Cup
Calories 35kcal

Ingredients

  • 250 grams Tamarind Cleaned
  • 500 ml Water

Instructions

  • Take the tamarind block and break it into smaller bits. Remove the seeds and the thick fibre as much as possible & discard. Set aside the pulp.
  • Take a pressure cooker and add cleaned tamarind and water. Cook for 15 minutes on a low flame. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and wait for the pressure to release naturally. Pass the softened pulp through a metallic strainer
  • If you are using a pan, leave tamarind in hot water in it for 45 minutes to turn soft. Wait for the tamarind mixture to cool slightly. Pass the softened pulp through a metallic strainer (do this twice with more water if needed) & then boil it for 4-5 minutes.
  • Cool the tamarind paste completely and store it in a clean dry glass jar.

Notes

  • Soak the tamarind well to extract as much pulp as possible.
  • Store tamarind paste in glass jars only. Tamarind may react with jars made of aluminium, copper or even plastic.

Tools & Equipment Used For This Recipe

The links below the image lead to product links on Amazon.in & Amazon.com respectively

Saucepan

Strainer

FInally! To Sum It Up

All About Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) | Uses & Health Benefits of Tamarind

Spice Card – All About Tamarind | Know Your Spice Imli (Tamarindus indica L.)

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) is the only im­por­tant spice of African origin. Today, it is a much-valued food in­gre­dient in many Asian or Latin Ameri­can recipes.

The sour and fruity taste of imli merges well with the heat of chillies and gives many South Indian dishes their hot and sour character, and their dark colour.

In India, imli is mostly com­bined with meat or legumes (lentils, chick peas or beans). The pulp is sold dry and must be soaked before usage. Only the water is then added to the food.

The pulp of ripe fruit of imli tree is commonly used as condiment in many Indian dishes particularly South Indian dishes.

In India, Thailand, Southern Europe and Latin America, tamarind is a popular cooking and condiment flavour.

The tree originated in Africa, but now it is cultivated mainly in South India and in the Caribbean.

Arabs are believed to have called it “date of India”; the English word date is related to “dactyl”, the Latin word for finger, which applies to the pod of the imli tree more than to the fruit of the date palm.

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