"A traditional food plant in Africa, tamarind has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare." - Wikipedia
On that note, Tamr Hindi of Egypt is a delicious, sour, chilled drink made from tamarind and is widely popular in the summer. In the streets of Cairo you will find juice shops, stands, mobile carts and colorful vendors clanging their sagaats (finger cymbals) through the streets selling this drink for 1 LE.
Tamarind is easy to find in all areas of the city and come in the form of a wadded up ball of tamarind "meat" or in the natural form of the pods.
My first experience with this drink came during Ramadan of last year. My husband and I were riding a microbus through Maadi just as the fast broke on the first day, and within minutes, boys with trays of Tang and Tamr Hindi came to the bus to offer quick relief from the day's hunger pains. Cool, tart and refreshing, this drink became a staple of the summer for me.
With summer here again, I have tried a few recipes at home and have found that this one works best.
1 14-oz block wet tamarind
1-2 C sugar (I used 1 C and it’s still on the sour side, if you want something a bit sweeter, kick it up to 2 C)
10 cups water
- Cut tamarind into pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups of warm water into the bowl and let the tamarind soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Scoop out one piece of tamarind from the bowl and place in a blender with another cup of water. Pulse for only a couple seconds – just to break up the large chunks and pour into a saucepan. Repeat with the other three pieces of tamarind and pour the water from the bowl into the saucepan.
- Add four more cups of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and stir in the sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Take the saucepan from the heat and strain the mixture through a colander/sieve over a cheesecloth into a large bowl or another large saucepan. Once all the liquid has been strained (and has cooled down!), squeeze as much liquid as you can from the cheesecloth. Discard the pulp.
- Once the juice has cooled down, pour it all into a pitcher and refrigerate. Serve over ice.