Tamarind also popularly called imli in Hindi and Puli in Tamil not only has culinary uses but has amazing health benefits too. Tamarind is such a part of our life here in our village, we use it extensively both in cooking and also in remedies.
We have plenty of tamarind trees in our farm and I was busy the last few days collecting fresh tamarind, drying and storing it for this years use. Usually we are very busy during summers as we do all our drying, grinding, preparing our powders and oils for the whole year’s use. Especially preparing tamarind and storing is a very important process.
Not a day goes by without using tamarind, it is such a part of our diet that you will never find an Indian kitchen especially South Indian kitchen without tamarind. Most of the traditional food that we consider great delicacies are mostly made with tamarind, I can’t imagine a life without sambar, tamarind rice | puliyodharai, puli kulambu and most importantly our tamarind rasam :).
Tamarind Common Names:
Tamarind Fruit Nutrition:
Tamarind tree is a medium sized tree that produces pod like fruit. It need plenty of sunlight and is found plenty all over India. The leaves are small and green in color and the flowers are yellow and yellow in color. Most of us think only the fruit has medicinal uses but not only the fruit, the leaves, the bark, the seeds also has multiple uses.
Though the medicinal uses are the same for all the varieties of tamarind, some varieties of tamarind trees produces very sweet fruits compared to others, we always prefer them and they are the best for using in cooking as it gives a wonderful sweet and sour taste.
Tamarind Traditional Uses:
Though we can’t eat the fruits too much as it is too sour, tasting tiny bits of the fruit prevents nausea. I love very ripe fruits and suck on it sometimes. I even love to eat the raw tamarind fruits after peeling of the skin with tiny bit of salt, it has a crunchy sour taste to it.
We use the tamarind seeds for playing traditional games like pandian kuli. When I was a kid, all the kids from our village used to gather together in a place and play traditional games like pandian kuli throughout the day, there used to be piles of tamarind seeds in most of the homes just for playing.
It used to go on till it got dark and parents have to drag us home everyday for sleeping, writing about tamarind brings back fond memories of my childhood. We also roast the seeds, remove the outer covering and chew on them. The roasted seeds are hard and they stay in our mouth for a long time. At home, we store tamarind in huge ceramic jars sprinkled with sea salt for the whole year.
Tamarind Side Effects:
Though tamarind fruit is sweet and sour and is good to suck on, elders will always scold us for doing it. That is because consuming too much of tamarind causes acidity and stomach burn. Consuming tamarind in our traditional diet like how our elders did will not cause any problems but if you are consuming large doses of tamarind at a time like tamarind juice, it will cause acidity.
Taking large doses of tamarind at a time also might interfere with certain medication and will have an impact on blood sugar levels. Since tamarind fruit is highly acidic, sucking on the fruit often will affect our tooth enamel too. Pregnant women can safely consume tamarind but in moderation. It is always best to use tamarind in moderation (our elders always insisted on this) and in my opinion never in large doses…..
5 Top Health Benefits, Medicinal Uses & Side Effects Of Tamarind | Imli (Hindi)| Puli (Tamil) For Skin, Weight Loss & Diabetes:
1. Tamarind Pain Balm:
Before the store bought pain balm became famous, tamarind paste was the first choice for sore muscles, minor sprains and swollen joints. It helps to reduce the pain and swelling without any burning sensation that usually accompanies a store bought pain balm. It is so gentle on the skin too.
To make this pain balm, remove the shell and the inner seeds of ripe tamarind. Soak the flesh in water for 2 to 3 hours. Make a smooth paste out of it in the blender. Add a little salt and turmeric powder to it and boil the paste till it reaches a thick creamy consistency. Apply the paste on the affected area when it is still warm!
2.Tamarind Leaves Antiseptic Wash:
This homemade antiseptic wash made with tamarind leaves has amazing medicinal uses. It can be used for cuts, wounds, allergies, skin infections, scrapes and is very effective in treating and healing wounds naturally. This antiseptic wash is made with tamarind leaves and neem leaves. Both neem and tamarind leaves have powerful antiseptic properties and together, they help in faster healing of the wounds.
To make this antiseptic wash, first collect fresh tamarind and neem leaves. Boil water in a wide pan and once the water comes to boil, add the leaves all at once. Let it boil till the leaves change color. The color of the water will also change to light green color, switch off. Cool and use it as an antiseptic wash, to wash the wounds. Try using it both morning and evening for best results.
3. Tamarind Leaf Compress:
This tamarind leaves compress is a very effective home remedy for muscular pain and sprains. The leaves of tamarind tree is very good in treating muscular sprains and also helps in greatly easing the pain. To make the tamarind leaves compress, boil water in a wide pan and once the water comes to boil, add all the tamarind leaves at once.
Boil for 5 minutes till the color of the leaves changes to light brown color and switch off the flame. Wait for the water to cool down a bit, now remove the tamarind leaves using a strainer and place it over a pure cotton cloth. Tie the cloth into a bundle and use it as a compress for muscular sprains. The compress should be warm to the touch.
When the compress looses it’s heat, dip it in the water that the leaves were boiled in and squeeze to remove excess water and use again. This tamarind leaves compress can be used both morning and evening till one gets good relief.
4. Tamarind General Uses:
Tamarind can be used for polishing copper and brass and we use only tamarind to polish them at home. To use, first wash the vessel that you are going to polish then take a piece of tamarind and stat rubbing till it starts shining again. At home, we make tamarind and ginger preserve popularly called as inji puli and it greatly aids in digestion.
Tamarind also acts a laxative but I would suggest not using it solely for treating constipation, instead you can choose recipes that is high in fiber and has tamarind included in it to prevent the side effects…
5. Tamarind For Skin:
Tamarind has anti septic and skin lightening properties and the tamarind leaves can be used for treating minor skin infections like mentioned before. Also the fruit pulp can be used in face packs as it has skin lightening properties. It also tones the skin and is ideal for using it in firming face packs.
For using it in face packs, first soak tamarind in water for some time and extract the thick pulp. To make the face pack, take 2 parts besan, 1 part turmeric powder and mix well. Add tamarind little by little till it forms a spreadable paste. To use, apply a thin even coating on clean face, wait for 15 to 20 minutes till it dries and then wash it off…