We used to walk under rows of tamarind trees to reach our school and on our way back we used to pluck raw tamarind to eat with salt to counter its sour taste. Now-a-days I feel sad to see the missing tamarind trees and wonder about all the health benefits which have been lost.
Tamarind is one of the most widely used ingredients of cooking all over the world. It gives a unique flavour and helps in spicing up the dish. No South Indian meal is complete without adding tamarind.
The green unripe tamarind is sour to taste and is used for pickles and chutneys while the ripe tamarind is sweet to taste and its pulp is used for making rasam, sambar, and a variety of food items. The green tamarind is ground with salt and turmeric is added to it and it is preserved for later use. It will remain unspoilt for more than a year. It activates taste buds for those who are recovering from fever or some illness. This old tamarind chutney is a delicacy in Andhra Pradesh.
Apart from giving taste to our dishes it has innumerable health benefits
■ Tamarind is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Tamarind is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Potassium is an important mineral that controls blood pressure and heart rate. Iron is essential for red blood cell production.
■ Tamarind is an anti-septic and refrigerant. On getting hurt often the area turns blue. In such cases take 10g of tamarind pulp, 10g of tamarind leaves extract and same amount of wheat or rice flour, now grind all the ingredients and tie a bandage on the bruise. This will give relief from pain.
■ The dietary fibers in the pulp, reduces bile salts and decrease their re – absorption in the colon. Thereby helping the excretion of bad cholesterol levels from the body.
■ Tamarind is used to treat many other ailments such as alleviation of sunstroke and intoxicating effects of alcohol etc.
■ Tamarind is rich in tartaric acid which gives a sour taste to the food.
■ Rasam made of tamarind water mixed with powder of coriander seeds, fennel seed and asafetida is very effective in providing relief from common cold and cough.
■ The pulp of tamarind if applied on itching skin provides immediate relief.
■ Drink juice extracted from the tamarind pulp mixed with one spoon of ginger juice to get immediate relief from headache.
■ Take tamarind pulp, jaggery, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper in equal quantities, grind and make small balls of the size of neem (margosa) fruit. Chew this before meals daily to improve your appetite.
■ Tamarind pulp not only relieves us from constipation but also protects us from colon cancer.
■ The tamarind leaves are also used in many lotions. They are used to treat cold, cough, fever, intestinal worms and urinary infections. Leaf extracts also exhibit anti-oxidant activity in the liver. These leaves are also used in cardiac and blood sugar reducing medicines.
■ The leaves of the tamarind are believed to give relief from worms, jaundice and an external wash of tamarind water is good for sore eyes and ulcers.
■ For fractures, add 50g of tamarind pulp to sesame oil and tie on the fractured area to join the bones.
■ Application of tamarind seeds powder to teeth makes them strong and disease free.
■ The seed is also used orally for the treatment of chronic diarrhea and jaundice.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna