Tamarind Paste (ukwaju)

Tamarind is one of those things I remember very fondly from childhood. Up until recently I just ate them like candy.

the final product, all pretty in a jar

Then I used some in a dish a while back but I’ve never thought to turn it into a paste till now. By the way, if you haven’t tried that tamarind chicken you are missing out. It’s very simple to make and would be a good start to kick off your cooking with tamarind experience if you never have. It also doesn’t need the paste, so you won’t have to make it first. (Just a little warning though, those old photos are not pretty, I was still learning! He he he! Just focus on the recipe, don’t mind the photos, the recipe is a winner, I promise!)

Now, lets get on with how I made that paste. You will need some fresh ripe tamarind. They don’t have to be removed from the pods (they often already are before you buy), but if they are thats one less step for you.   

this was my fresh batch

I actually like them in the pods, I like cracking those pods open, takes me way back

That’s the first one I opened. Just look at that colour, you just know this is a sweet one. I remember as a child, the darker and deeper the colour was, the sweeter it would be, so I’d always save the darkest one to eat last.

And yes, I ate the first one. Ha ha ha! There was no way I wasn’t going to. Let me just release you — don’t be so serious while you’re cooking, enjoy every bit of the process, especially if it means tasting. Don’t pass up the opportunity to have a nibble/spoon/piece of something! A verse comes to mind…

1 Timothy 5:18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

That’s Paul, quoting from Deuteronomy 25:4, don’t muzzle thyself — go ahead, have a nibble!

Continuing on with the paste…

I took a break from nibbling and pulled them all out of their ponds and removed the fibre
there they all are
I put them all in a pressure cooker with just enough wanter to almost cover them

Add nothing else. Cover and turn on the heat. Once the whistle goes off from the pressure, reduce the heat and wait 15 to 20 min, the remove from the heat. You will get something like this…

they don’t look all that different, just fatter!  But the water has all evaporated and the pulp is now really soft, and it easy to squeeze out the seeds
so lift them out, one by one and separate the seeds from the pulp, make sure your hands are clean before you start
so lift them out, one by one and separate the seeds from the pulp, make sure your hands are clean before you start. Don’t throw out the seeds, perfect for nibbling that little bit of pulp that’s still on them
if there is a little bit of liquid left in the pressure cooker don’t throw it out, it’s very tasty and sweet, add it to the pulp

Then bit by bit, spoon the pulp into your blender to make a lovely smooth paste

and do nibble all the way
with all that nibbling I still had enough to fill a jar and a half! And yes, I cleaned out that blender when I was done with it !
and there is the jar, I saved a couple of pods to eat later, they made great props for these photos I think… and there is a runaway seed in that jar! I just noticed it! How did that get there?
the paste is just wonderful, the colour, the rich flavour — awesomeness in a jar! This jar is about 1.5 cups/12oz (estimated, the marks didn’t go all the way to the top)

And there you have it! Tamarind paste!

keep nibbling people!

About aika

Making, eating and sharing good food are a splendid way to start, brake and end a day! I post good eats on www.pendolamama.co.ke. Life is a feast, eat up!

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