Tamarind is an ingredient that I don’t believe most people are familiar with. I was, until recently, one of those people. I had heard of it before, but I had never really had it in anything and I had certainly never tasted fresh tamarind fruit before. Thanks to my partnership with McCormick, however, all of that has changed. They have created the 2012 Flavor Forecast to help people like you and me learn about new ingredients and techniques from all over the world, and tamarind fruit is just one example of that. McCormick has pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and play with flavors that I previously would never have even considered. When I was sent a box of tamarind fruit and told to go for it, I did a bit of research and discovered all of the wonderful ways in which tamarind fruit is used throughout the world. It can be made into a marinade, a sauce, or in this case, a tasty drink. Ripe tamarind fruit is hidden behind a hard, walnut-like shell, but once you crack it open, it’s quite similar to a date, both in flavor and texture, which is probably why some people call it an “Indian date”. It is commonly used throughout Africa the Middle East, but it has reached parts of Mexico and Asia, too. I was talking to one of my friends, who is Mexican, and she said that a lot of more authentic Mexican restaurants will serve tamarind flavors agua fresca instead of the more common fruity ones that you find in most places in the States. When she told me about the agua fresca, I knew that I had to do something similar, and of course, maybe a bit more adult. Hence, the Sweet Tamarind Margarita. I love the depth of flavor that this margarita offers; it’s not as fruity as some other flavored margaritas, but it is still refreshing and sweet, and it really brought a ray of sunshine to Kramer and me on a gloomy New York winter day. You can find tamarind fruit in most specialty foods and health stores, so if you’re interested in pushing yourself and impressing your friends, pick some up and start cooking!
Crack open your tamarind fruit.
And peel away the spine-looking fibers. Don’t worry about getting every single one – you will press it through a sieve later on.
Combine the fruit with 1 cup of hot water and mash them together until the fruit dissolves into the water.
Then press the mixture through a mesh sieve to remove any extra fibers and seeds.
The consistency should be like a thin applesauce when you are done. Heat the pulp over medium heat with 1/3 cup of sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
Juice your lemons and limes.
Then shake your lemon juice, lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, and tamarind simple syrup over lots of ice.
Serve over ice and enjoy.
- 1 cup sweet tamarind fruit, husks removed
- 1 cup hot water
- 5 ounces blanco tequila
- 1 ounce Cointreau or Triple-Sec
- 2 ounces lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 2 ounces lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 ounces tamarind simple syrup
- salt, for the rims of the glasses
- lime/lemon wheel slices, for garnish
- First, make your tamarind simple syrup. Start by making your tamarind pulp. Remove the husks from the tamarind and peel away the fibers - this is kind of a fun process, as the fibers look like little spines and they just easily peel away. Place 1 cup of tamarind fruit in a bowl with 1 cup of very hot water. Using your hands (I suppose after years of cooking, I have a high pain tolerance for heat - make sure you can comfortably do this without burning yourself), mash the fruit up to separate it from the seeds and remaining fibers. This should take about 5 solid minutes, until most of the fruit has dissolved into the water. Push the mixture through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds and fibers from the pulp. The resulting consistency should be that of a thin applesauce or puree.
- In a medium sized pot, combine your tamarind pulp and ⅓ cup of granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has fully dissolved, then set aside to cool slightly, either in the fridge or the refrigerator.
- Juice your lemon and limes and add them to your mixer. Add in your tequila, Cointreau, and tamarind simple syrup. Top off with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Wipe a lemon or lime wedge around the edges of your glasses and line with salt. Strain your margaritas into your glasses, garnish with a lemon and/or lime wheel slice, and serve over 1 or 2 ice cubes.