Tamarindus indica is a species of tree. Its more common common name is “tamarind tree”. This species belongs to the family Fabaceae and the subfamily Caesalpinioideae according to the APG III classification. It is the only currently accepted species of the genus Tamarindus (monotypic genus). It is cultivated for its fruit, the tamarind, sometimes called “Indian date”. The edible pulp surrounding the seeds is both acidic and rich in sugar. This pulp with added sugar is used to make a refreshingly acidic tamarind drink in Latin America or tamarindade in the West Indies and Reunion Island.
Culinary use: The pulp is used as a spice in African, Indian, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It gives a sour flavour. It is used in curries, lentil dishes, with rice noodles, sweet chutneys, or used to flavor rice. It is an important ingredient of Worcestershire sauce (invented in England). The pectin it contains is used in industrial jam. The highly acidic juice (rich in tartaric acid) finds a use comparable to lemon juice.
Description: The tamarind tree is a tree ten to twenty meters high with a rather short trunk. Slow growing, it has a long lifespan. Its foliage is evergreen with alternate, paripinnate leaves (up to twelve pairs of leaflets). Its yellowish flowers in drooping terminal racemes appear in May and give, in October, fruits consisting of large pods containing several seeds surrounded by fibrous pulp.
It is native to the dry tropical regions of East Africa. Implanted a very long time ago in South Asia, it has since spread to all tropical regions. Specimens were introduced in the sixteenth century in Central America; the species is now widespread in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. In Madagascar, among the Sakalava people, the tamarind tree is considered a sacred tree, the "King of Trees".