This past weekend I was lounging on the soft-sand, turquoise-water beach of south-east
Very interesting stuff, and very coincidental to be reading it under that same tropical East African sun, where every move is sweat-inducing. Reader also says that the way our cooling system developed – sporting well-developed sweat glands, for example, instead of a muzzle – actually made the evolution of a large brain physiologically possible. It is this large brain that allows us to solve problems. Problems such as: My body may be an efficient cooling machine, but I feel hot. What should I do? Ah, yes, I will invent something called a refrigerator and use this nifty appliance to chill water into tiny cubes. Over these ice cubes, I will pour a beverage that will quench my thirst, give me a quick burst of energy, and jolt awake my taste buds with a puckery tang.
In other words: When in
The tamarind tree is native to the East African tropics. Its fruit is a long pod, and inside the pod are shiny, brown seeds surrounded by a thick, rust-colored pulp. When the pod is picked, it dehydrates into coarse, stringy fibers, which makes the tamarind that you, say, purchase at a Zanzibari market and carry with you back to Zimbabwe, distinctively unattractive (see photo). It is the pulp that you eat, and that is packaged and sold as tamarind paste.
Mark and I first drank tamarind juice during breakfast at the Tembo House Hotel on our first morning in
Tamarind Juice (Maji ya Ukwaju)
Adapted from A Taste of Zanzibar: Chakula Kizuri
4 cups of water, plus 3 cups
½ pound / 230 grams tamarind pods*
1¾ cups sugar
Place the tamarind pods and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and soak the pods for one hour. Put the saucepan on the stovetop and bring the mixture to a boil. Cool.
Your next task is to remove all the stringy bits and seeds from the pan. I did this with a combination of my hands and a strainer. First, I used my hands to pick out the seeds from the pot. The membrane and any remaining pulp around the seeds should be soft and can easily be separated from the seed. Discard the seeds and return the membranes and pulp to the pan. Some seeds may have broken apart – I found that these bits are most easily captured with a fine strainer.
When all the strings and seeds are gone, use an immersion blender to blend the remaining liquid. Strain again. Add the sugar and 3 more cups of water and boil again for five minutes. Taste the liquid and add more sugar if you think it is necessary. Chill. Serve over ice cubes.
*Miriam, a Tanzanian blogger, has also recently written about tamarind juice, and she combines it with mango to create, I must say, a much more photogenic beverage. Since most people don’t have access to fresh tamarind, she helpfully recommends Laxmi Brand natural tamarind concentrate for recipes that call for tamarind, including juice recipes. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tamarind paste with me here in