(Curries And Gravies Based On Tamarind)
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When we talk about South Indian cooking, one of the most common ingredient that is used to make any side dish is Tamarind. It is used to make a sour and spicy gravy which is used along with different cooked vegetables, fish or egg. The sharp sourness of the tamarind along with the perfect balance of spice and salt will make any curry taste delicious. Surprisingly, tamarind is just not used in the south Indian cuisine but also in many south Asian cuisines especially in Thai cooking.
Tamarind grows as soft, dark brown colored pod with seeds encased in it. The pod which is soft, sticky and sour is used for cooking while the seeds are discarded away. Tamarind comes in both sweet and sour varieties and it is the sour variety that is commonly used in Indian cooking.
Tamarind is usually bought in bulk for one full year. It is dried in the sun for couple of days. Then it is stored in earthen pots layered with rock salt. Do not store tamarind in metal vessels as it reacts with it. In our family, tamarind is stored in the way I have described above and it stays good for even up-to 2 years. As days go by it gets a deep dark color and the sourness increases.
Tamarind Based Curry Recipes
For making tamarind based curries, tamarind needs to be soaked in water for 10-15 minutes to extract its pulp. The pulp can be extracted by squeezing with your fingers until only the seeds and the fiber is left. Generally any vegetable that is used in partially cooked first. The extracted tamarind juice and spices are added. The curry is then cooked until everything comes together. Tamarind based curries are known by different names like Pulikulambu in Tamilnadu, Pulusu in Andhra Pradesh and Teeyal in Kerala.
Tips: If there is too much sourness in a tamarind based curry, it can be reduced by adding the right amount of salt or a teaspoon of sugar.