This is a classic Mexican drink found in street stands, markets, restaurants and homes all over the country. It’s tart, refreshing and goes perfectly with spicy dishes.
Tamarinds are pod-like fruits, grown on trees and filled with a sweet, tangy pulp. In addition to Mexico, it’s used in Asia, especially in India and Thailand, as well as in African, and Central and South American cuisines.
The tamarind tree arrived in Mexico via the Spaniards in the 16th century and has since transformed into a standard ingredient. Tamarind pulp is used to make a variety of tart sweets and can be prepared in sauces and even used for medicinal purposes. Strangely enough, tamarind is also an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, which happens to be a popular condiment in Mexico.
This drink is a bit more labor intensive than other fresh fruit drinks, but it’s worth it for that delicious sweet and tangy finish! I don’t like a lot of sugar so I only use ¼ cup, but if you have more of a sweet tooth feel free to add more. The same goes for the quantity of water – add more if you want a less intense flavor.
- 1 lb. of tamarind pods
- 2.5 liters water
- ¼ – ½ cup of sugar
Remove the outer shells of the tamarind pods. Bring the pods to a boil in a medium sized pot with ½ liter of water and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the pods sit for at least 2 hours (I sometimes let them sit over night.)
When the tamarind pods have become soft and sort of slimy they are ready to be strained. Put the pods in a mesh strainer. Using a spatula or spoon to stir the pods to separate the pulp from the seeds and strain into a bowl. Put the pulp into a pitcher and add the reserved water as well as the remaining 2 liters of water. Mix in the sugar until dissolved. Add ice and serve.