After posting the tambran (tamarind) ball recipe a couple days ago (sweet spicy sour tambran balls) , I realize that I still had some tamarind left back so I decided to share this recipe with you guys. Originally when I told my mom I purchased some tamarind in a box at the Asian store, she jokingly said “buh son, dais not the real thing” (gosh trinbago accent sweet eh!). So she got my dad to go out and get some of the ‘real thing” for me and sent it down with my sister (they live in Toronto and I’m in Hamilton). Sure enough it was the “tart” or sour type of tamarind we’re accustomed too in the Caribbean, but already out of the hard shell-like exterior.
This tamarind sauce is used primarily as a condiment or topping for such things as saheena, aloo pie, pholourie and doubles. But I also recall (back to my school days again) a thicker version, with a sort of amchar massala undertone that was a hit with the kids at my primary school. Maybe I’ll post that recipe the next time I get some of the ‘real’ tamarind.
200 grams tamarind pulp (about 7 oz)
3 cloves garlic
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 leaves shado beni
1 1/2 cup water
* add some salt and extra sugar if you find that the finished sauce is overly tart.
Before I go further I must let you know that there are 2 variations of this recipe. The first being the way I’ll show you below, where I’ll simmer the sauce on the stove for 10-15 minutes. The 2nd method you’ll use the same ingredients, except no cooking is involved. You simply add everything to a blender and give it a good pulse. I like to cooked version better as I find that the pungent ingredients like the shado bein and garlic is infused within the sauce and has a much milder after-taste.
The first step is to crush the pepper, garlic and shando beni into a sort of chunky paste. I give those things a rough chop and work it well in my mortar and pestle.
BTW, you’ll notice that my shado beni looks a bit starving… I’m just thankful I could get fresh shado beni here, so I’m not complaining. The next step is place the tamarind paste into a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups water. Now using your fingers, (if you didn’t get seedless), work the pulp away from the seeds and try to crush the flesh between your fingers. It will get a bit messy so you can wear disposable gloves if you wish.
Now remove the seeds and discard. Place the saucepan on medium heat, add the sugar (pinch of salt) and the crushed pepper/garlic/shado beni to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Now turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and with the pot closed, allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir every 2-3 minutes and if you find that it’s getting really thick, add a bit more water. You’re looking for a sort of thick tomato soup consistency (a little thinner than ketchup). Allow to cool before serving as the taste when it’s hot is totally different than when it’s cool. If when you taste it you find that it’s more tart (sour) than anything else, add a bit more sugar. It should be the perfect balance of tart, savory and spicy.
I almost forgot. I’m not sure how many of you saw the message I posted on Facebook, but I mentioned that if you’d like to post any cooking/food related questions to a certified chef, who’s traveled all over the world doing his culinary thing.. now is the time to do so. A couple weeks back we met with the Rhyming Chef (Philman George) for coffee and during that meeting he agreed to take time from his hectic schedule to answer any questions you guys may have. All you have to do is leave the questions in the comment section below and I’ll send them off to him. I’ll then post the answers on the website for everyone to participate in the discussion.
You can learn more about The Rhyming Chef at his site http://www.therhymingchef.com/ A super cool ‘soldier’ with a massive passion for the culinary culture and history of the Caribbean, especially his home island of Barbuda.
I urge you to post your questions below and do check out Philman’s website for some amazing tips and cooking videos.