Tabasco sauce, that famous and exceedingly pungent thin red pepper sauce, is made from a small Mexican variety of chilli which was brought into Louisiana in 1868 by a soldier returning from the wars. It has many uses on the bar, at table and in the kitchen, and is one of the important commercial sauces.
Indian Date FR: Tamarin GER: Tamarinde IT: Tamarindo SP: Tamarindo BOT: Tamarindus indica FAM: Leguminosae ILL: Plate 7, Nos. 1, 1a
Tamarind is probably a native of tropical east Africa, but possibly also of southern Asia. It certainly grows wild all over India and has been used there for a very long time, hence its alternative name. It was also used by the Arabs and, to some extent, in Europe during the Middle Ages. Supplies at that time came mostly from India.
What is Tabasco and How Do You Use It? Photo Gallery
The tamarind tree when fully grown is quite large, and sometimes reaches heights of eight feet, although it is usually smaller. The tree bears pods six to eight inches long, which become dark brown when they are ripe. The pulp surrounding the seeds contains some twelve per cent of tartaric acid, so that although it also contains sugar it is intensely sour.
Commercial tamarind, as available in Indian shops, consists of the partly dried, broken and sticky mass of pods without the seeds. It always contains fibrous material. If this is macerated in hot water, an intensely sour brown juice can be squeezed out. This juice is the common souring agent used in Indian curries. Tamarind keeps almost indefinitely and must always be on the shelf of people who like real curries, as other souring agents will never produce quite the same results. Today tamarind is grown throughout the tropics, including the West Indies, and is used commercially as a basis for fruit drinks. It is mildly laxative.