Let's admit it; a bowl of warm and soothing sambhar is an instant mood-lifter. Team it with puffy idlis, crispy dosas or utthapams and you have your meal of the day. Another delightful south Indian preparation that we can have at any hour of the day is rasam. Rasam is a heart-warming soup preparation from south India, which is made using tamarind juice, pepper, tomato, cumin and other spices. Both these dishes have found takers across the globe. One of the major reasons for the immense popularity of both the dishes is their characteristic tangy flavour. The unique tangy flavour requires a certain combination of ingredients, which are hard to substitute. The presence of tamarind is one such indispensable aspect of sambhar and rasam. South India is blessed in terms of tamarind produce, which is why tamarind water or tamarind extract finds its way in quite a few of their preparations.
Tamarind water is made from the pulp of dried tamarind and has a tangy flavour. Beyond Indian shores, tamarind water or agua de tamarindo is a popular Mexican drink as well.
Stores are filled with ready-to-use tamarind extracts and pastes, but you are never too sure of additives and preservatives these extracts may have. Making tamarind water at home is a very easy process; it may take 10-15 minutes more, but the authentic touch it imparts to the sambhar and curries is worth it all.
Mumbai-based food blogger, Alpa M of "Something's cooking with Alpa", gives out handy tips to make perfect tamarind water for sambhar and rasam.
- Soak the tamarind in room temperature water for one hour and then press it using your fingers to remove the pulp. This is the traditional method to get the tamarind pulp.
- If you are in a hurry, you can use warm water. This would enable you to reduce the pulp extraction time to half. Strain and extract the tamarind water in another bowl. You can also add this water in a pressure cooker and cook along with other veggies to prepare yourself a delicious and tangy stew.
According to Alpa M, "Tamarind is packed with a number of health benefits. Its cooling properties make it a favourite addition in many south Indian preparations. A lot of people just end up adding lime juice as a souring agent, but in my view, nothing can match the tangy pungency of tamarind as it gives the sambhar its authentic flavour and look."
Here's how you can make tamarind water at home:1. Pull out 2" wide portions of tamarind and place them in a bowl.
2. Now boil a cup of water and pour it over the tamarind. Allow the tamarind to soak in the water for about 8-10 minutes.
3. Next, make the use of your fingers and start mashing the tamarind into the water, until it is totally mashed.
4. Take a fresh bowl and strain the tamarind water.
5. Do not toss away the remaining pulp. Pour warm water over it and repeat the entire process of soaking, mashing and extracting.
6. Strain this extract over the first extract. Your tamarind water is ready for sambhar, rasam and curries.
Follow these tips and tricks and prepare the extract at home.