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Why We Like Tamarind so Much?
|If you don't live in Mexico, you probably don't know what tamarind is, much less what it means for our daily lives. It is a multipurpose fruit, used and enjoyed in any home, and comes from a tree unlike any other tree.
Its botanical name is Tamarindus indica, which derives from the Arabic "Tamar" which means a date, and "Hindi" (Indian) which translates as Indian date. The funny thing is that it is neither a date nor is from India, but it is a fruit tree "domesticated" by man for its great attributes. It was supposedly brought to India from Senegal (Africa, where it still grows wild) and from there, began to be exported to various Asian and European countries, thereby erroneously establishing India as its place of origin, although the fruit had been known to Egyptians and Greeks since the fourth century BC. Currently, tamarind is classified as one of the 32 species of fruits in the world.
Its History in Mexico
Given its great popularity in Mexico for its fruit, you'd think the tree were native to our Mexico or at least the Americas. It was actually introduced by African slaves brought by the Spanish during the sixteenth century. Gradually, its cultivation spread throughout all tropical areas of the country, especially along the Pacific coast in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Its Nutritional Value
Tamarind has a high content of 10 different vitamins and high in dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, citric acid, so it is considered an excellent food supplement. The ripe fruit is used in the preparation of desserts, drinks, or simply as an aperitif, thanks to its distinctive flavor, it has become an important part of traditional Mexican food.
Its Medicinal Value
Both the pulp, leaves and bark of the tamarind tree have medical applications. Tamarind is used to relieve some digestive or stomach problems and may be used as a laxative or purgative. It is also very effective for headaches, minor burns, colds, cough, vomiting, jaundice, hemorrhoids, sores, swelling, bleeding and hypertension. As a curiosity, it is said that the plant is even an effective remedy for alleviating hangover after a night of drinking.
The Mexican Touch
Mexicans, characterized for inventing new ways to eat and prepare food beyond traditional recipes, we have the sweet tamarind, an extremely varied product that appeals to young and old. While traditionally the fruit pulp is eaten, sweetened chili is added here to give a sweet and spicy flavor that we love so much. This has allowed a very important virtual industry to evolve around this tree, although I must clarify that the majority is prepared by hand, which probably saves countless Mexican families that make a living from growing, harvest and processing tamarind.
Beyond enjoying the delicious taste of fresh tamarind, as a naturally flavored "agua" or by consuming tamarind candy, you are keeping a tradition alive, as well as benefiting greatly from its many nutritional qualities. There is nothing better than a glass of cold tamarind "agua", but yes, make sure it is fresh, not concentrated, as it loses much of its flavor.