In it’s natural form tamarind looks like a bean pod. It has a crisp, brown shell and the fruit is sticky, tart and sweet with several seeds in each pod. When I was a child, our neighbours had a tamarind tree in their yard. When they weren’t around, my sister and I would shake the tree and gather the pods to make tamarind candy balls or a drink called Tamarind Fizz. But mostly we’d just pick them up and eat them. We learned the hard way that if you eat too many tamarinds your tongue will get sore … not that that stopped us at the time.
If you don’t live in the tropics I suggest visiting an Asian grocer in your city to find tamarind in its natural form. If you can’t find the pods ask for tamarind paste or pulp. In my video below I show you how to make Tamarind Balls two ways with the natural pods or the paste. Tamarind Balls are sweet and sour nature’s candy at it’s best.
In Jamaica and Trinidad, tamarind balls are made with the fruit’s sticky flesh rolled with brown sugar into round sweet and sour balls. You can also make spicy versions that have hot pepper mixed in. Basically tamarind balls are made with the flesh of the tamarind mixed with sugar and water. Or you can add a boost of flavour with Jamaican rum, as you’ll see me do in my video below. Clearly they’re for adults only … though the alcohol does dissipate leaving behind the lovely rum flavour.
Start by mixing two parts brown sugar with 1 part tamarind flesh, after that you’ll really need to adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. Then add liquid (water or rum) a little at a time until everything holds together. If you use too much liquid then just add more sugar. I like to make large tamarind balls but you can make them any size you like. I roll them in the sugar and then again in my palms, and then roll them in the sugar again to finish them off … beautiful!
You can store tamarind balls in a sealed container for a few weeks. The best ones are moist and tangy. Just be careful not to eat too many at one time… or you’ll get a sick tummy. I know from experience.
The Fay Way: Gold Members click below to watch me make Tamarind Balls two ways – step by step!