Notes from a salty table: Tamarind syrup, dip or cream, call it what you wish

Tamarind is a native of Africa though it seems to feature more so in Asian dishes, however, it does make an entry into a few West African recipes and is readily available in The Gambia. There are some wonderful Swahili recipes that use much tamarind.
Tamarind is a glorious, sticky, acidic and tangy substance, starts off green but becomes a rich brown when made into a concentrate. Imported tamarind paste has a deep shine and reminds me of freshly polished brown shoes. Gambian tamarind tends to have a muddier colour, though is as tasty as imported.
This recipe is for sweet and savoury dishes and so shall mention a few here.
Fried plantain with the tamarind used as a dip; banana in a chilli pepper batter with drizzled tamarind syrup. Mango, papaya also appreciate tamarind. I do make an apple and tamarind crumble, tasty but rather rich.
For those with a savoury appreciation, one could coat a loin of pork, or rabbit – yes, rabbit and pork are used in the Gambia. Cook the loin till just ready, then paint a layer of the tamarind over and finish cooking. I often make roast sweet potatoes and add my tamarind syrup at the end of cooking.

You will need:

  • 3 heavy tablespoons of tamarind concentrate
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried milk
  • 1 pudding spoon of honey-dark preferred
  • 1 cap of orange blossom water
  • water to loosen

In a bowl, place the tamarind concentrate, add your dried milk and blend. Dribble in a little water and mix; you can add more water – I tend to go for thick syrup, but it can be quite thin. Now add the honey and blossom water and mix.

Done and enjoy.


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