Tamarind: Sweet, Dried, Velvet

Sweet, Sour & Earthy, tamarind is common across India, Thailand, West Africa and other parts of the world in various forms.

Taking its English name from the Arabic, tamar-hindi, meaning “Indian date,” tamarind is typically used in equatorial cuisines, such as Indian, Mexican, and Thai. Also known as imli, tamarind is used as a souring agent in many cuisines, especially those of South and Southeast Asia; Fine Cooking


I know only tamarind of the velvet sort – Icheku, the Igbo name is what I grew up calling it. The Yorubas say Awin. I buy it in huge bunches and snatch seeds off the frail branches. Press, snap, open. Lick. 


2012 – Winter, New York

I taste sweet tamarind for the first time. I fall in love and learn of its laxative properties. Like dates.

2013 – Summer, New York

I am wowed by a tamarind drink while feasting at a Mexican restaurant – Rosa Mexicano with my friend Pam. Jarritos is the brand and I’m sold. For ever. The refreshing taste lingers on.

2014 – Rainy season, Port Harcourt

I discover Tsamiya(r), dried (sweet and sour) tamarind from the north of Nigeria. I am wowwed. So thrilling to continue to discover new Nigerian ingredients.

The fresh variety is also abundant on the shelves of a store, L’Epicerie in Lagos. The batch, imported from Thailand makes for many happy evenings snacking away. I attempt to make a tea from it by soaking the pulp in hot water but it doesn’t yield much flavour.

Favourite snack ever.  Well,  one of several favourites. Truth must be told.  Sweet tamarind.  Purchased (this word cracks me up but.... I'll move on) at L'Epicerie, Lagos.  Introduced to me by my big sis back in December of 2012.  Sweet. Sticky. Tart. Li

2015 – Rainy season, Lagos

I receive a batch of dried Tsamiya(r) from my friend, Ramon.


On to the drawing board.

Are you familiar with Tamarind? In what forms? What do you do with it?[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Tamarind: Sweet, Dried, Velvet – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]


  1. I grew up on sour Tsamiya. We use it for Kunu with Rice. I use it in my Pap(Ogi). As a child, I was a picky eater and every thing made me want to throw up. So my mum always gave me a cup of brewed Tsamiya whenever I felt nauseated. I still take it as a substitute for Lime or Lemon. Don’t know why but I feel like Tsamiya, Lime and Lemon are of the same family(in my head).

    I need to call mama now for stock up.

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