JFI Tamarind: Panaka

Why oh why is June coming to an end? When almost all the blogs i know and love have an event submission deadline? :) This post has been in the works ever since JFI Tamarind was announced by Sig of Live to Eat.( JFI was started by Indira of Mahanandi - youve got to love the focus on uniquely indian ingredients).

Anyhoo, what began as a comic strip on the crazy adventures of our intrepid heroine imli aka Tamarind has mutated into a mini history slideshow on a beloved Indian Ingredient. But wait there's more( this is what happens when you watch one too many Kaboom adverts - wish I could go on a TV diet :))

There is also a recipe. Ha i knew you did not see that coming. That recipe however is thankfully a one liner, mix fruit juices with tamarind juice honey and water , attach ancient sanskrit name, panaka or panchamrutha sell for 500 rupees to unsuspecting foreigners as rejunuvating sanskrit waters.

But seriously, As a south Indian - tamarind is ubiquitous in almost all the foods I make. It also seems to be the "in" word for Indian Restaurant names in the US. Tamarind is the next India Garden( Every US city ive been to has an India garden - go figure). For Grandma backed authentic certified south indian food, always add Tamarind. The blacker the better - My grandma actually used to mail us tamarind from her village ( and in the Indian postal system it matured from brown youth to black old age). And then we used to play board games with the tamarind seeds, Dayakattai.

And now flashback over, quick summation - Tamarind has been around in Indian cuisine for what seems like forever- so much that even it has plenty of Indi in its official name, tamarindus indica. Wikipedia will tell you that it tamar al hind means Indian date, but did you know that Marco Polo was the first to write that down 800 yrs ago?

In vedic times, tamarind was also called chincha or amlika. It was commonly used in beverages and preserving meats. The seeds surprisingly were used to make a drink with whey.

So before you OD on tamarindus indica, heres wishing you khatta meeta imli times!

Note on the drawings: I sketched these with a black oil crayon and photoshopped the rest.


Sig said...

This is my favorite entry so far... :) Very cute... Thank you for participating in JFI...

Shilpa said...

Wow..such a beautiful post.

ms said...

Hi sig, thank you for picking such a gorgeous ingredient!
Hi shilpa, welcome to SF :)