Whilst it’s pouring with rain outside my household is about to go inferno with this simple tamarind balls recipe. Tamarind is indigenous to the subtropics/African region and was later on introduced to the Caribbean. Today the fruit is widely embraced by Islanders especially Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Jamaica.
I would describe the fruit as the western hemisphere’s answer to candy, that’s how it is enjoyed in the tropics. Normally the pulp can be; eaten raw/unshelled, made into soft balls like candy, drunk as a beverage or added to cuisines. I personally eat as little pieces of candy and thoroughly enjoy the sticky sweet and sour taste.
Tamarind is rich in fibre, vitamin c, b, iron and magnesium just to name a few nutritional components. It’s often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat people suffering from constipation, ingestion, and other forms of gastrointestinal disorders. Be warned though, too much of this stuff can easily turn into a laxative – an unexpected side effect for an over enthusiastic consumer.
If you live outside of the tropics, you can purchase a box of tamarind in any Caribbean or Asian grocery store. It’s better to purchase the tamarind in whole, instead of picking up the tamarind paste, which is made from concentrate. where the nutritional content is diminished. Unfortunately, there’s a bit more work to be done with using the whole fruit instead – some patience and perseverance goes a long way!
You can make the balls by using two methods, the first being adding a large amount of sugar to the sticky paste as a complete binder. The second version being to add some flour instead for binding and then coating the balls in sugar.
I prefer to use the flour method, infact I use tapioca starch and some coconut palm sugar to keep things healthy. I use Biona Coconut Palm Sugar which has a low glycemic index, making it a great sugar substitute for diabetics. It’s also less refined, than white and brown sugar and offers a butterscotch, caramel taste.
- 1 box of tamarind
- 1-2 tbsp of tapioca starch
- 3 tbsp of coconut palm sugar (see above for details)
- First of all we need to crack the shells in order to obtain the pulp, so go ahead and break the shells, remove the long steam inside, discard and repeat the process. Don't worry about the seed they are supposed to be there and most will fall out during the kneading stage.
- Once deshelled, transfer the paste into a bowl and mix in a tablespoon of tapioca starch at a time. Depending on how sticky the pulp is you may need to add more starch, therefore only add a teaspoon at a time. You're looking for a firm, pliable consistency - like dough.
- Finally create small balls and roll them into the palm sugar.
- Serve or store in the refrigerator
If you do not have any tapioca starch available, use any other flour substitute.