The Secret To Great Pad Thai and Chicken Wings…



It was the great Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan who coined the term “Global Village,” the metaphorical shrinking of the world due to advances in technology and information. And the term may be expanded to include the kitchens of the world as well; a generation ago it might have been unheard of for a home in Tamworth, Ontario to have a jar of wasabi in the fridge, or rice paper wraps in the cupboard. Grab your tamarind, you know you’ve got some, and let’s kickstart the weekend. 



Many of us were introduced to the unmistakable flavor of tamarind in the classic British condiment H.P. Sauce, or in a pad Thai. It is tamarind that gives that distinctive, tangy yet sweet flavour, a little sour, a little umami.


Tamarind was a fixture in cuisine long before Frederick Garton developed H.P. back in 1895. Because of its strong flavour and naturally occurring acid content, tamarind has long been used as a great meat marinade and tenderizer as well. It marries beautifully with beef and pork, which may explain why it is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce too. Not just another pretty face or empty extra, tamarind is also good for you, containing significant quantities of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus fibre and protein.




Tamarind trees are native to Africa, but have been cultivated in India and other countries in South Asia for so long that they are considered to indigenous to these countries as well. The tamarind tree produces pod-like fruit that is harvested for the culinary world as well as other applications, including folk medicine and, interestingly, as an ingredient in metal polish. In Indian cuisine the tree’s the ripened legumes are used in curries, chutneys, jams and desserts, as well as sorbets, juices and drinks like the Mexican classic, agua de tamarindo, and even steeped in tea infusions. Basically if you want to impart a sweet and sour tang to stews and savoury dishes, reach for some tamarind. World famous Chef Yotam Ottolenghi,  regards tamarind paste as one of his secret ingredients as it appears in many of his dishes.


Tamarind is most readily available to us as a thick pulp packaged in jars, or in firm blocks similar to the way one can buy dates, and it is also sold in its natural state, in its pods, seeds and all. The next time you want make a dish that brings the world into your kitchen why not try a little tamarind? Here  are a few ideas to get you on the right track. Familiar yet still exotic, it may just become one of your favourite secret ingredients. If it’s good enough for Ottolenghi how can you go wrong?


Tamarind chicken

Tamarind chicken

comments powered by Disqus