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5 Tamarind Varieties (Different Varieties and Health Benefits)

Tamarind fruit close up shot on a rustic wood background.

Tamarind is a tropical fruit that is used in a variety of dishes all over the world. It’s even possible that it has medical advantages.

The Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is the sole member of the Tamarindus genus from the Fabaceae family. It is a tree with origins in eastern Africa, especially the dry deciduous woods of Madagascar. Tamarind grows naturally in Sudan, but it has now spread to tropical Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

What Type of Fruit is Tamarind?

The tree typically reaches a height of 20 meters and is evergreen in areas where there is no dry season. The wood comprises two types of wood: a firm, deep red heartwood and a gentler, yellow-toned sapwood.

The leaves of this tree are made up of 10 to 40 leaflets. Racemes are used to produce the blooms. The fruit is brown and pod-like, with a mushy pulp and several tough seeds. To improve germination, the seeds may have to be scarified.

The pulp of the apple is eatable and widely consumed. It’s a common spice in Asian and Latin American dishes and a key component of HP and Worcestershire sauce.

An early fruit’s pulp is extremely sour and is frequently utilized in savory dishes. The mature fruit is sweeter and is often consumed as a snack or used in sweets and drinks.

The pulp is used to polish brass furniture in temples, particularly in Asian countries. This is to remove dulling and the patina that forms.

Different Types of Tamarind

The pulp of the fruit is edible. Many people find the hard green pulp of a young fruit to be overly sour, yet it’s frequently employed in savory dishes as a pickling agent or as a way to make certain deadly yams in Ghana safe to eat.

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The fruit grows sweeter and less tart (acidic) as it ripens, and the matured fruit is more appetizing. When ripe, the sourness varies by cultivar, and some sweet tamarind cultivars have nearly no acidity. Different types of Tamarind include:

Sweet Tamarind

Sweet Tamarind is a unique-tasting fruit that can be used as a spice or a tangy-sweet seasoning in various Indian dishes, particularly on those mouthwatering ‘chaat’ items, as a chutney.

The fruit pulp is high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other critical nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, a minimum amount of protein, and no cholesterol.

Sweet Tamarind may be eaten raw and is an excellent weight-loss snack because it is low in fat and cholesterol. Diabetics, on the other hand, should be cautious because it contains a lot of sugar (68.9 grams per cup).

By including it in your normal diet, you may satisfy 7% of your daily protein needs and get plenty of carbohydrates to fuel your system and keep you content for longer.

Manila Tamarind

Manila tamarind on a wooden background.

The fruits range in hue from red-pinkish to greenish-brown. It’s a versatile tree that produces both edible and indehiscent pods.

Pods are small and thin, about 10-15 cm long by 1-2 cm wide, and arranged in a spiral of one to three whorls. Each pod contains ten flattened, black, and gleaming seeds. They have a diameter of 1 cm.

The edible pods have a thick, acidic pulp that is fairly delicious. The fruit can be eaten raw or made into a soft drink, such as lemonade. The oil produced from the seeds is used to make soap and is also used in cooking.

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Manila Tamarind has a sweet, musky, acidic flavor that tastes like desiccated coconut meat. The fruit’s flesh melts on the tongue and has a chewy, doughy, wispy, and faintly gritty feel, with a flavor that varies greatly.

As the fruits are highly perishable, it is best to consume them as soon as possible. When peeled, the white aril turns brown.

The fruit has a lustrous black seed encircling the flesh, similar to Tamarind, but it is not edible. The red-fleshed fruit is sweeter than the white fruit, but the white fruit may cause slight throat irritation.

Spanish Tamarind

Vangueria madagascariensis, also known as Spanish Tamarind, voa vanga, or Tamarind of the Indies, is a plant in the Rubiaceae family that produces edible fruit and is native to the African continent. Johann Friedrich Gmelin described it as the type species of the genus Vangueria in 1791.

The Spanish Tamarind is endemic to Madagascar and is widely distributed throughout the Indian Ocean and East Africa, where it is known as vavangue. It would have been introduced to the island around the 18th century. It is becoming more widely farmed in Guadeloupe.

The Spanish Tamarind is a 2-15 m tall, densely branching shrub or small tree with sleek grey bark and a whitish or ivory slash. Flowers are greenish-yellow, yellow, or cream in color, fulvous-pubescent, and borne in dense axillary cymes. Fruits are delicious, spherical, very smooth, and lustrous.

Velvet Tamarind

Closed up shot of velvet tamarind.

The Leguminosae family includes the velvet tamarind, which is tall, grows in tropical climates, and yields fruit. The fruits are similar to grapes and are edible. However, they have hard shells that must not be eaten.

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The fruit has a sweet and sour taste, and it is sweeter, dryer, and has a powdery consistency with a solid shell than Tamarind. The fruit becomes powdery when dried, and the orange color has a tart flavor.

Every fruit has only one firm seed that is flat, circular, brown in color, and is 7-8 millimeters in width and 3 millimeters in thickness. The seed has two seeds and resembles a watermelon seed. The seed is coated in starch and has a shiny surface.

The plant can withstand hot, humid, tropical climates. It grows well in tropical climates and prefers to thrive in rainy locations since it requires completely drained soil.

The tree has the potential to thrive in both good and bad soil. Velvet tamarind trees require a slightly shady location that is also small. According to the farmers in the area, the maximum life span is 15-17 years.

However, one tree was said to have thrived for 40 years, while the other two trees, which grew in nitrogen-rich soil near an outdoor toilet, were believed to be dead after only 5 years. Plants have a good symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, which aids in developing nodules and incorporating atmospheric nitrogen into them.

The plant uses part of the nitrogen, but some of it may also be used by the neighboring plants. As the plant cannot be farmed, the technique of propagation is unknown. However, it is thought to grow from seeds found in the forest.

Australian Tamarind

The native Tamarind, Diploglottis australis, is a well-known rainforest tree in eastern Australia. The big sausage-shaped leaflets make it easy to spot.

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The native Tamarind grows on basaltic and fertile alluvial soils in a variety of rainforests. Brogo near Bega (36° S) in New South Wales is the southernmost point of natural dispersion. They grow wild along the east coast of Australia, reaching as far north as Proserpine (20° S) in tropical Queensland.

The tree’s leaves are long and broad, and the tree itself is medium to huge. It can grow to be over 35 meters tall with a trunk diameter of 75 centimeters. The trunk is cylindrical and flanged at the base, similar to Coachwood’s trunk.

The branches have huge, pinnate leaves with strikingly large leaflets that are alternately borne on the branches. However, it does not adapt well to areas in which strong winds can destroy its huge leaflets.

The aril can be eaten raw or added to jams and chutneys. The native Tamarind is prized as an indigenous fruit tree. It’s also the base for a tart, refreshing cocktail.

Health Benefits of Tamarind

Traditional medicine makes use of Tamarind, but its therapeutic potential needs further study. Tamarind pulp is high in nutrients that may help you stay healthy. Here are the top health benefits of consuming Tamarind:

Tissue Health

Except for tryptophan, Tamarind has large levels of all necessary amino acids. It satisfies the World Health Organization’s guidelines for an ideal protein in terms of the other amino acids.

Cancer Risk Reduction

A diet strong in antioxidants is recommended by scientists for various reasons, one of which is to reduce the risk of cancer. Antioxidants can protect cell DNA from free radical damage.

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Many malignancies, according to scientists, start with DNA damage. Antioxidant properties are present in phytochemicals found in plants. Tamarind is high in beta-carotene and other phytonutrients.

Brain Health

B vitamins are made up of eight separate vitamins that all work in the same way. As they are all water-soluble, the body does not store them.

The B vitamins, in their entirety, are necessary for optimum health. They are rather important for the brain and neurological system to function properly. The B vitamins, particularly thiamine and folate, are abundant in Tamarind. Tamarind, like other plants, is deficient in B12.

Final Word

Tamarind is a versatile ingredient that enhances the flavor in both sweet and tart foods, from sour soups to sweet chutneys to juices and fizzy drinks. The tamarind fruit is wrapped inside seed pods and comes from the tamarind tree.

It is crushed to form tamarind paste or a less diluted tamarind concentrate. Tamarind can also be purchased in chunks or removed from fresh pods. In the Caribbean, India, Thailand, and Mexico, it is a popular dish.