What would a dish without spices? I am sure that the answer is ... too plain a.k.a boring......... !! And it's true that spices enrich our food and our lives, too. That's why I include assorted spices below, just to make sure that your life is not too plain or too bored to live.............

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Piper nigrum
Family: Pepper (Piperaceae)

Synonyms: Madagascar pepper, common pepper
Forms of use: Fruit (pickled, dried, and ground)
Origin: Pepper is native to the monsoon forests of India. It is cultivated mainly in India, Indonesia and Brazil.
Aroma: Pepper does not smell at all and its taste is sharp and slightly hot.
Use: Next to salt, pepper is a universal spice in European and North American cuisines. It is used to season all savory dishes. Moreover, green pepper seasons sweet dessert like fruit salad, strawberries and chocolate dishes as well. Black pepper is a part of many spice mixes such as curry and quatre epices. It is also used to produce pepper oil essence for perfume.
Buying/ storing: Pepper is available whole or ground in every grocery. If kept in a cool, dark place in an air-proof container, pepper corns should last up to 3 years. An open jar of green pepper corns should be stored in a fridge and will last about 4-6 weeks.
Properties: Pepper grows in the form of berries on an evergreen climbing plant. A wild plant reaches a height of 30 feet, while cultivated varieties are bred to reach only 13 feet in order to make harvest easier. A pepper bush is completely mature when it is about 8 years old. It bears fruit for about 20 years. Spadix-like inflorescences develop into fruits resembling red currants. Depending on the degree of ripeness, berries, are green or red. They are picked in various stage of ripening, according to personal preference, and processed further. Alkaloid piperine is responsible for its hot taste.
Medicinal Use: Because of its sharp flavor, pepper warms up the body, boosting the metabolism and helping digestion by stimulating salivation and digestive juices. Pepper increases appetite and eases flatulence. Piperin contained in pepper is used in some stomach tonics and stomach medicines.


Green pepper is an unripe harvested corn generally pickled in salt or vinegar brine or freeze-dried using a special procedure immediately after being harvested. Green pepper is very aromatic and there are many ways to use it. Pickled vegetables receive a special flavor from this mild pepper. However, it is good to use it in meat dishes that cook for a long time like game, lamb or pork roast. Since green pepper is soft, it can be used for pastes, marinades and spreads. Strawberries with green pepper is a unique culinary experience.

Black pepper is an unripe harvested green berry which is dries in the sun after being picked. It becomes black and hardens. The spice is sharp and fiery. Use black pepper in sauces, soups and marinades, roasted and grilled meat, ragouts and stews as well as in game, meat fillings and pasta dishes.

White pepper is a red, fully ripe harvested berry that is soaked for about one week before its skin is removed. Then the corns are dried in the sun and gain their distinctive yellow-white color. Since it is finer and milder than the other types of pepper, it complements salads, spicy cottage cheese dishes, light sauces and fish very nicely.

Long pepper belongs to the pepper family as well. It is a tropical climbing plant with about 1 inch long, cone shaped ears which turn light brown when dried. It is as sharp as black pepper, but its taste is simultaneously slightly sweet and sour. Grind or crush in a mortar before using.

Red pepper grows on Brazilian pepper trees all over South America. Fully ripe pink berries are not processed in the same way as black pepper. Its taste is sweet, spicy and only slightly sharp.

Did you know…
Beside salt, pepper corns are the most popular and common spice in most households. Pepper is relatively cheap today, but this has not always been the case. The ancient Greeks knew that pepper stimulates the appetite. During Roman times, pepper was a sign of wealth and prestige because its sharp flavor only seasoned meals in rich households. In ancient Rome, successful merchants who traded spices were called “pepper bags”. During the Middle Ages, pepper was weight in gold. Since pepper is native to countries in the Far East faraway from Europe, an insult developed among European: “Go where peppers grows!”.

Important Warning:
Use red pepper sparingly and keep container containing it away from children. It is poisonous when eaten in large qualities.

Tips for cooking:
Two ground rules: put white pepper in light dishes, black pepper in dark dishes. Cook whole pepper corns in the dish the whole time. When using ground pepper, add it only at the end of cooking.
Biting into a pepper corn can be unpleasant. Therefore, cook pepper corns in a little textile bag or in a tea ball and remove it from the dish before serving.


Rosmarinus officinalis
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Synonyms: Romero, alecrim
Forms of use: Leaves, fresh, and dried
Origin: rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region where it grows wild even today. It is cultivated in Spain, France, North Africa and the United States. Rosemary likes sun and does not like too much water. The more intense the sunshine, the better the aroma.
Aroma: The taste of rosemary is resiny and spicy. Fresh rosemary is very aromatic. If dried, its taste is slightly bitter and acrid and should be used sparingly.
Use: rosemary is a classic spice of Mediterranean cuisine. However, it is used in Central European cuisines as well to season lamb, game, pork and poultry. It goes well with fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini as well as with string beans, potatoes and legumes.
Buying/storing: Rosemary is available either fresh or dried in every supermarket. Fresh rosemary twigs should be wrapped in a moist towel and put in a bag in the refrigerator. If you intend to store them for more than 1 week, however, freeze them. Dried rosemary should be kept in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Properties: Rosemary is an evergreen plant which is not frost-resistant. It can grow up to 5 feet high, but it is usually merely a knee-high bush. The narrow, blue-green leaves smell like resin and are shaped like fir needles. Rosemary has little lilac blossoms. The taste and aroma are affected by its essential oils, tannin, bitter substances, resins, flavonoides and saponins.
Mythology: Rosemary was regarded as a holy herb by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was a symbol of fidelity and was supposed to improve memory and thus symbolized the constancy of lovers. In ancient Greece, students wore wreaths of rosemary to support their ability to learn. Rosemary was said to chase away ghosts. It was burnt in invalids’rooms to clear the air. During the Plague, people wore sachets filled with rosemary around their necks to ward off infection.
Medicinal Use: rosemary balances nerves and blood circulation, relieves exhaustion, stomach aches and headaches, soothes rheumatism, neuritis and cramps, and stimulates bile and digestive juice production.

Did you know….
“Ros”and “marinus”means, respectively, “dew”and “sea”in Latin. Rosemary is devoted to the goddess of love and beauty. Aphrodite, and was regarded as a symbol of fertility. A twig of rosemary was placed in cradles and worn as a wedding wreath. Courting couples planted a rosemary twig in hopes of a long and happy marriage.

Tips for cooking:
Rosemary should be added to dishes early. Remove the twigs before serving. Fresh rosemary twigs can be used as skewers to pierce meat and vegetables for kebabs. Rosemary goes well with garlic and thyme.


Salvia Officinalis
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Synonyms: Common sage, Ramona, sage, sauge
Forms of use: Leaves, fresh and dried
Origin: sage is native to the Mediterranean region, but it has been spread over Central Europe, and even Asia Minor, since the 9th century.
Aroma: The taste of salvia is fresh, spicy, slightly bitter and almost soapy if used in excess.
Use: Sage is a classic spice in Italian cuisine. Classic dishes include saltimbocca, tortellini with sage butter and polenta with gorgonzola and sage. It seasons tomatoes, potatoes, greens, minced meat and poultry stuffing very well. Buying/storing: Sage is available fresh and dried in every supermarket. Fresh sage twigs should be wrapped in a moist towel and put in a bag stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Dried sage has more intense aroma than fresh salvia. It should be stored in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Properties: Common sage is a perennial forb growing up to 32 inches high with gray-green, oval and slightly pilous leaves on woody shoots and light blue or light lilac blossoms in July. Its spicy-bitter leaves are used for seasoning. They are rich in essential oils and thujone and smell very aromatic.
Related species: There are hundreds of sage species. The most common relatives of sage are; pineapple sage (salvia rutilans), cherry sage (salvia greggii), grapefruit sage (salvia dorisiana), and clary sage (salvia sclarea), which is cultivated for use in the perfume industry because of its intense nutmeg smell. All the listed species are similar to divine sage (salvia divinorum), which is native to Central America. The latter was a sacrificial herb of the Central American indigenous peoples.
Mythology: The medicinal power of sage was appreciated first by the ancient Romans. It was grown in cloister gardens in the time of Charlemague. A verse from the 13th century credits sage with warding off death and for a long time, occult powers were attributed to it. Sage was first used in cooking during the Middle-Ages.
Medicinal Use: Sage has anti-inflammatory, painkilling and perspiratory properties. Because of its anti-inflammatory function, it is suitable for soothing gingivitis and as mouth wash. It calms stomach viruses and can prevent light influenza infections. It also prevents lactation. Furthermore, a cup of sage tea on hot summer days is very pleasant.

Tips for cooking:
Sage goes well with rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley and bay leaf. Use sage with care – it can be overpowering. Roast salvia in oil to bring out its full aroma.

Important Warning:
Thujone eaten in large amounts is poisonous. Severe nervous diseases develop if used often in high quantities.


Satureja hortensis
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Synonyms: Summer savory, sedree, ajedra
Forms of use: Leaves (fresh and dried)
Origin: Savory is native from the eastern Mediterranean region to Iran. Today, it is cultivated in all Mediterranean countries, Central Europe, western Asia and India as well as in southern Africa and North America.
Aroma: The taste of savory is peppery, slightly hot and smells very spicy.
Use: Savory is an attractive ingredients because it reduces flatulence. It goes well with fatty meat, game and fish dishes, heavy soups, baked potatoes, potato and bean salads as well as tomato and mushroom dishes. It can be used as a seasoning for smoked foods.
Buying/storing: Savory is available in some marketplaces where one can buy it with fresh beans. Its fresh form is available only in marketplaces, but its dried form is available in well-supplied supermarkets or spice stores. Keep fresh leaves in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Dried savory should be kept in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Properties: Savory is an annual, shrubby plant which grows up to 20 inches high. Its paired leaves are dark green, lanceolate. They are about 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide and have very thin barbs on the edge. The blossoms of savory are pink or light lilac. The herb is cut before blooming, when its flavor and aroma are most pungent. Savory get along both in a flowerpot with beans and in a garden. It can even act as a natural pesticide. String beans, for example, are almost free from greenflies if savory is planted nearby.
Related species: Perrenial winter savory (Satureja Montana) is a close relative. Its taste is slightly more acrid than the taste of summer savory.
Mythology: The ancient Romans used savory as a cooking spice and medicinal herb. They also believed in its powers as an aphrodisiac. This knowledge was noted in medieval medical document prescribing it to ensure fidelity in marriage.
Medicinal Use: Savory promotes digestion and strengthens the stomach. It relieves coughing and obstruction of airways with mucus. Savory acts as an antiseptic for pharynx and larynx injuries.

Tips for cooking:
Fresh savory can be frozen and dried. Use savory with care. Its full aroma is brought out during cooking. Add whole fresh savory to dishes and remove before serving.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Syzygium aromaticum
Family: Myrtle (Myrtaceae)

Synonyms: Eugenia cayophylaltum, syzygium aromaticum
Forms of use: blossom buds (dried-whole or ground)
Origin: Cloves are native to Indonesian Molusccas, the “Spice Insland”. Today, the tree is grown in Indonesia, Madagaskar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Aroma: the taste of cloves is fiery sharp and slightly hot. Cloves smell very strong.
Use: Cloves enhance the taste of sweet dishes, baked goods and punch. They lend a special, piquant aroma to meat and fish dishes as well as game, poultry, stews, red cabbage, marinades of any type and smoked goods. Fine chocolates are delicious thanks to cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
Cloves are contained in various spice mixes such as Indian “garam masala”, Arab”Baharat”and Chinese five-spice mix. Cloves are also present in Worchestershire sauce.
Buying/storing: whole cloves are preffered to powdered cloves because the essential oil evaporates very fast after cloves are ground. A spice grinder can grind a few cloves easily. Freshly ground cloves are perfect for Christmas cookies. Powdered and whole cloves can be kept in an airtight, dry and dark container for 2-3 days.
Properties: the clove tree prospers best in tropical marine climates. It can grow up to 50 feet high and bear about 6 pounds of fruit per year from its sixth to its sixtieth year. It has and red blossoms narrow, cylindrical, evergreen leaves similar to bay leaves. As soon as the firmly closed green buds turn light red, they are picked manually, separated from the stems and dried in the sun. In this way, cloves turn the brown color by which we identify them. They are rich in essential oils.
Medicinal Use: Cloves promote digestion, relieve stomachaches, stimulate appetite, relieve pain and disinfect. They heal toothaches as well. Clove oil is used as an anesthetic in dental surgery and as an ingredient for diarrhea and flatulence.

Did you know…..
Half a lemon stuck with cloves helps to repel mosquitoes on warm, sultry days.


Sesam Indicum
Family: Sesame (Pedaliaceae)

: Gingelly, benne
Forms of use: Seeds (dried, whole or ground)
Origin: Sesame belongs among the oldest cultivated plans in the world. It originated in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and in India and Africa a thousand years ago. Sesame spread to China, Japan and the Mediterranean countries. It is cultivated in Turkey, India, China, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico today.
Aroma: Sesame does not smell and its taste is nutty and slightly sweet.
Use; Sesame is used mainly as an ingredient in bread and rolls, muesli and in roast flakes in Central Europe. In Asian cuisine, meat and fish are fried in crunchy sesame butter, vegetable dishes are seasoned with gomasio, soups are spiced with tahini and sesame is added to sweet dishes of all types. Particularly in Chinese cuisine, sesame oil from roasted sesame seeds is often used as a spice.
Buying/storing: Sesame is available in well-supplied supermarkets or in Turkish groceries. Buy sesame in whole seed form and store it in a cool, dark, dry place.
Properties: A sesame plant has long, straight up to 6 feet high herbaceous stems with long, oval leaves. Its blossoms are white or wine red and resemble foxglove. Seeds are ripe 12 weeks after sowing. They are found in long pods and are about 2 mm. The plant is cut and dried in bundles. The pods open slowly and sesame falls out, hence the expression: Ă–pen sesame”.
Sesame is composed of, depending on its particular form, up to 50 percent oil, which consists almost of several fold unsaturated fatty acids, 20-4- percent protein and a significant amount of vitamin E, lecithin and niacin. Moreover, it is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium.
Medicinal Use: Sesame has detoxifying as well as laxative functions. It promotes menses and prevents hair loss and headaches. Because of its high content of calcium and essential fatty acids, it is recommended for osteoporosis prophylaxis. Sesame oil is used in traditional Asiatic medicine as well as in massage oil and is supposed to aid in relaxation.

Tahini is a paste prepared from ground sesame. It is available either with or without salt in natural food stores, shop selling dietetic products or in Arab groceries. The paste is used to spice meat and vegetable dishes in Oriental cuisine. Spread on bread as a healthy, exotic and delicious alternative to salami or marmalade.

Gomasio, also known as sesame salt, is a mix of toasted, ground sesame and sea salt. It has been used as a traditional spice in Japan for centuries. Gomasio should never be hot and should be added to dishes just before eating to preserve its nutty aroma. Gomasio should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed as soon as possible.

Tips for cooking:
Sesame develops its full nutty aroma only when roasted. For piquant dishes, crush the seeds in a mortar with a little salt to intensify the taste. Sesame can go stale fast if it becomes damp.


Ocimum basilicum
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Synonyms: Sweet basil
Form of use: leaves, fresh and dried
Origin: Basil is native to the Indian subcontinent, but basil was planted in Italy during Roman times. Basil is grown both in tropical as well as in temperature latitudes. The more intense the sunshine, the better the aroma of basil.
Aroma: the taste of basil is sweetly spicy and pleasantly peppery. It gives dishes a fresh aroma.
Use: Basil is a classic spice of Italian cuisine. Pesto, insalada caprese and pizza margherita are not complete without this spice. Basil goes well with salads, vegetable dishes and dips.
Buying/storing: Basil is available either fresh or dried in every supermarket. It is better to buy fresh basil with roots because it is more flavorful and lasts longer. Dry basil has a less intense and slightly harsh aroma. It will keep if stored in an airtight, closed container in a dark, cool place.
Properties: Basil is an annual plant with big dark green oval leaves. In late summer, the herb has white, rosy or lilac blossoms forming a spike. Basil grows up to 20 inches high. Many essential oils are responsible for its distinctive smell and taste.
Related species: The genus of Ocimum includes more than 60 different species. They differ in color and in the shape of the leaves. Exotic lilac forms are called “Dark Opal”or Purple Delight. Moreover, there are lemons, cinnamon and anise basil with various aromatic nuances, as is clear from their names. Depending on a particular cuisine, you can use either Thai basil or Mexican basil.
Medicinal Use: Basil has sedative effects on the nervous system. Brewed basil leaves promote sweating and help to release mucus in cold weather. Basil soothes stomach disorders, flatulence and anorexia and stimulates milk secretion in new mothers. It used to be regarded as a means to treat depression.


1. ASIAN BASIL (Horapa in thailandese): this basil is similar to European sweet basil. It is used liberally as a seasoning and sprigs are often added to platters of fresh, raw vegetables.

2. LEMON BASIL (kemangi in Indonesian): this basil is similar to others, but paler in color, and with distinctive lemony fragrance.
3. HOLY BASIL: this basil has distinctive purple -reddish leaves and a mint-like zesty flavor and is used for stir-fries.

Did you know….
The name ‘basil’is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘royal’. In India, basil was regarded as holy and was used in religious ceremonies. The herb was brought to central Europe by Charlemagne and was grown as a medicinal herb in cloister gardens.
Lemon basil and holy basil are not widely found outside the region, but European sweet basil can be used as a substitue for all varieties.

Tips for cooking:
Add basil only shortly before the end of cooking or it will lose its aroma. Basil can be used to garnish soups and salads. Fresh basil can be cut finely, mixed with little water and frozen into ice cubes to be added to dishes.
Basil doesn't store well, so buy it just before you intend to use it. Basil has a strong flavor, so don't use it more than the recipes states.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Vanilla Plafolia
Family: Orchid (Orchidaceae)

Synonyms: vanilla orchid, vanille
Origin: the climbing orchid, is native to southern Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries. Today, vanilla is grown both in Central America and on Madagaskar and the Reunion and Comoros islands. High quality vanilla is called “bourbon vanilla”.
Aroma: the smell of vanilla is intense and slightly sweet. Its taste is also sweet and slightly spicy.
Use: vanilla is used to season chocolate, coffee, desserts of any type, custard, stewed fruit, and fruit salads. The taste of battercakes, pastries and cakes is improved with vanilla. In Mexico, even savory food like shellfish and meat dishes are seasoned with vanilla.
Buying/storing: vanilla is among the most expensive spices. You can buy vanilla beans in jars every well-supplied supermarket. Excellent quality vanilla is available under the name “bourbon-vanilla”. When buying vanilla beans in a spice store, you can choose between various quality and origins. Vanilla beans should be stored in an airtight, container in a cool, dark place.
Properties:Vanilla beans are the long, thin fruits of the vanilla orchid, which climbs 50 feet high tropical trees. The plant has thick, fleshy, oval leaves 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. The blossom is relatively small compared to the leaves and its color is white-yellow or greenish. Wild blossoms open only for a few hours and are pollinated by hummingbirds. Vanilla in cultivated form is pollinated manually. In 6-8 months, the vanilla stripes are harvested unripe and then fermented. The green-yellow fruits turn black-brown and develop an intense aroma. Vanilin is the most aromatic substance of this spice.
Mythology: The Aztec spiced their chocolate with vanilla to increase sexual desire. Indigeneous people from North America used dried vanilla as currency.
Medicinal Use: the Indians used vanilla both as a spice and as a medicine. They attributed heart-stimulating effects to it. Like cocoa, vanilla is said to reduce fear, depression and fatigue.

Did you know….?
The difference between vanilla sugar and vanillin sugar is that vanilla sugar is produced from genuine vanilla. Vanillin sugar contains only synthetically produced vanillin, an aromatic substance which smells like vanilla.
You can make vanilla sugar yourself: Put 1 scraped-out pod with 1 cup sugar in a jar with a lid and set aside for at least 6 weeks.

Tips for cooking:
In order to use the flesh, cut the fruit lengthwise and scrape it out. The fruit is not edible on its own.


Thymus Vulgaris
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Synonyms: Common thyme, garden thyme, frigoule
Forms of use: leaves (fresh and dried)
Origin: Thyme is native to and is cultivated all over the Mediterranean region. Its aroma and flavor are heightened by sun exposure.
Aroma: The taste of thyme is spicy and distinctly resin-like. It has a strong smell.
Use: Thyme goes well with meat and cabbage dishes, fish terrines, aromatic, fruity soups and sauces as well as with salads. Zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes are often spiced with thyme.
Buying/storing: Thyme is available either dried or fresh in supermarkets. Fresh thyme should be wrapped in a moist towel and put into a bag. It can be kept in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for about 1 week. The aroma of dried thyme is very intense. It should be stored in an airtight, closed container in a dark, cool place.
Properties: Thyme is a perennial evergreen forb whose lower herbaceous stems are woody or feathered. It grows up to about 16 inches high and has relatively small, dark green or grayish leaves. Its pink or lilac blossom is not very big. The whole plant has a very aromatic smell. The aroma of thyme is affected by essential oils, particularly thymol and carvacrol as well as flavonoid and tannin.’
Related species: Lemon thyme (thymus citriodorus) is a relative of garden thyme and is often garden thyme and is often used in cooking. Its leaves are slightly bigger and have yellow edges. It has a lemony scent, but its taste is reminiscent of thyme. It has available in marketplaces in summer. Season desserts and fruit salads with it.
Mytohology: The word “Thymus”is derived from Greek “thymos”or “stamina”which symbolizes strength and power. The Greeks used thyme as a smoking plant. Roman legionaries took thyme baths before battle to give them courage and power.
Medicinal Use: in folk medicine, thyme is recommended as a cure for upper respiratory diseases. It releases cramps and mucus. Furthermore, it is believed to reduce fever, calm nerves, reduce odor and disinfect. It relieves asthma, digestion problems and sore throats.

Tips for cooking:
Small quantities of thyme are sufficient and can be cooked for a longer time as well. Remove dried leaves from twigs with a fork. Thyme goes well with rosemary, oregano, sage and catmint.


Tamarindus Indica
Family: Caesalpiniaceae

Synonyms: Tamarindo, magyi, imli
Forms of use: fruit flesh of siliquas, as paste or in a block.
Origin: the tamarind tree is native to Ethiopia and spread to India. It was brought to the Mediterranean region and to Central America in the 16th century. Today, it is cultivated worldwide, though not in great quantities.
Aroma: Tamarind is pleasantly fruity and slightly sour.
Use: Tamarind is a popular spice in East African, Indian, Asian and Latin American cuisines. It is use similarly to lemon juice or vinegar and is added to meat and fish dishes as well as to vegetables, rice and legume stews. Since tamarind is rich in pectin, it its used to thicken chutney, relish, jelly and marmalade. A popular south Indian specialty is vindaalu, a pork dish, probably derived from the Portuguese, Porco vinbo el alho. In European cuisine, the popular Worcestershire sauce contains tamarind.
Buying/storing: Tamarind siliquas, flesh, paste or syrup are available in spice stores or in stores selling Indian, Asian, Mexican or African specialties. Tamarind siliquas can be stored for months. When the siliquas are fragile, the fruit is older. However, the taste is still good. Paste is available in jars and is storable in blocks and as syrup for a long time.
Properties: Tamarind are 2-8 inches long, cinnamon-colored brown siliquas, which are as wide as a finger and slightly coiled. The siliquas hang on an evergreen tree up to 82 feet high with very pinnate, oval-shaped leaves. They have beautiful blossoms, white outer petals and crimson-veined inner leaves with yellow edges. These blossoms develop into siliquas. Brownish black flesh tinged with red and ½ inch pits are covered with a fragile shell. The pits are removed and the flesh is dried and available as a block or paste. The taste is caused by a high content of fruit acids. Tamarind is rich in tartaric acid and contains malic, succinic, citric and oxalic acids.
Related species: Tamarinds are divided by taste into two groups. Sweet tamarind has brownish, mushy, sweet fruit flesh and rounder seeds. Sour tamarind has slightly flat seeds, almost black flesh and sweet and sour taste reminiscent of sour candies.
Medicinal Use: Tamarind has laxative effects. In centuries past, the amount of vitamin C in tamarind was sufficient to protect sailors from scurvy.

Did you know……..
The Arabic word “tamr hindi” means Indian dates. Tamarind was probably exported in great amounts by India and the seeds slightly resemble dates. Others: In the Carribean, refreshing lemonade is produced of tamarind flesh, sugar and water. It is an exotic alternative to soda on hot summer days.

Tips for cooking:
Tamarind blocks must be dissolved in hot water. If a block still contains seeds, they must be removed. If properly closed, you can keep the syrup in the refrigerator for about a week. Tofu is often pickled in tamarind syrup, which gives this neutral soy product a pleasant flavor. The sour and fruity taste of tamarind goes well with sharp chili.