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!
I just want to say thanks for your recipes. Without you my husband would be eating only American food. He’s Jamaican he’s from St Catherine Jamaica. Thank you so much, him and his belly are so happy now.
Thank you for sending me my newsletter. I haven’t heard from you in awhile and was wondering if you dropped me from the mailing list. Your recipes are great and sometimes I tweak it a bit, cause I also enjoy cooking. My children and in-laws thank you. This is my way of sharing my cultural heritage with my family. This also is my little secret, because they think I know all things jamaican in cooking and now I do! Thanks Fay – my go-to- kind -a -friend..
I was just at carifest yesterday in Calgary, AB
and I wanted to learn how to make authentic
oxtail so I am trying your recipe and if all goes
well I will be a member.
Thank u 4 ur recipes u have made my hubby one happy camper