The natural superfood that happens to be perfectly refreshing in unseasonably warm weather.
This recipe has been whirring around in my brain for awhile now. To be specific, I was first introduced to tamarind fruit as well as tamarind juice on our honeymoon last year. We had the most incredible trip last November (I may do a full recap at some point soon), where we travelled to Cape Town, safari in Sabi Sands, and then Mauritius to round out one of the best times of my life. Mauritius is a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with waters so blue it looks like a mirage or at least something out of a novel. I am not kidding, I have never seen anything like it. We spent an idyllic four days there, soaking in the sun, reading on the breathtaking beach, and hitting up the magnificent spa. It is a fascinating place as it is heavily influenced by all sorts of different cultures – most prominently Indian and African. However, as you can imagine around midday in Mauritius, it gets rather hot – it was around this time each afternoon that the lovely resort staff would start bringing around freshly brewed tamarind juice. To be honest, I was a little wary to try it at first. I have never been the biggest lover of juice, finding that too often it is much too sickly sweet for my taste. However, in this instance, my own curiosity and unquenchable thirst won over and I quickly took a gulp, followed by another and then before I knew it, I was asking for a second glass and drinking Andrew’s as well 🙂 The juice served as the perfect refresher, not overly sweet, with just a hint of a sour bite, and I was hooked. Turns out that tamarind juice has been served for centuries in Africa as a method to mitigate the intense heat and humidity. I guess they are onto something.
In any event, since we returned home nearly a year ago now, I have been thinking of recreating that lovely beverage here in the States. And I’m not sure about everywhere else in the country, but in DC the weather is feeling more like mid-July than late September. Thus, I figured I would sneak in one more “summery” recipe while I still can. I researched a few different tamarind juice iterations and found that whipping this concoction together is surprisingly simple. All it takes is a bit of mixing and patience. The hardest part is waiting for the tamarind pulp to arrive – thank goodness for Prime. This is the one we ordered – but if you live near an International grocer, I bet they might have tamarind pulp in stock.
The recipe below is just a guideline. Feel free to adjust to your tastes and desired level of sweetness. Keep in mind that I don’t love super sweet beverages so this probably has the minimum amount of sugar. I hope you get a chance to try it and let me know what you think if you do give it a whirl in the comments below. Hopefully the juice can provide a bit of a reprieve in this heatwave that the Northeast seems to be experiencing.
P.S. – For the chillier months ahead – here is an equally delicious warming tonic.
- 1 cup tamarind pulp
- 1 quart boiling water
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (to taste)
- Agave nectar to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (to taste)
- Optional add-ins: seeds from vanilla bean, fresh ginger, cinnamon
- Bring 1 quart water to a boil.
- Place the tamarind pulp in a heatproof mixing bowl.
- Add lime juice if using it.
- Pour boiling water over the tamarind.
- Stir in sugar and/or agave.
- Cover and allow to stand overnight.
- Strain the tamarind water through a strainer.
- Dilute with more water and add more sugar or agave to taste.
- Refrigerate and serve over ice.
- As variations, a few spoonfuls of cinnamon, vanilla, or grated ginger may be combined with the tamarind pulp before the water is added.