On Sunday, during the early hours of morning when we got up to get ready for a temple visit, hubby dear and I were sipping our precious coffee, we saw a rat making a bee line from the PC to a huge doll. Imagine this is the PC that I am right now tapping my legs against and that rat could be well cursing me for disturbing it. But really, I am trying not to get worried whether the rat is going to bite me or any of the numerous cables lying around! But imagine our shock seeing that! We just thought couple of weeks back that we saw the last of the rats at home. I know this is the first time I am talking about the rats, story for another day.Anyway we finally started for the temple by 6.30 am, didn’t take the boys as they were down with cold and cough since Saturday. They are much better now but didn’t want to tax them. They were happy resting with Athamma, not that they knew we left them behind. They happily thought we went to office. It was only Konda and us making the trip. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The climate was perfect and was so cool. We almost expected it to be very sunny, but there was a forecast of cyclone, so we were trilled traveling through a cool December morning.
The temple was a 3 hr drive, half way of which you will be trying to navigate through the traffic. The other half takes you through a kaleidoscope of scenes, the beautiful India in its essence, the villages, the breathtaking beauty of the crops, the innocent children playing on the streets, the men idling away under the trees, the woman busy with their chores. Can anything be more beautiful than this? Yes acres and acres of green all over. Infact I felt my eyes couldn’t take all of it. All shades of green, so much infact divine!
My love for green can fit many posts, so its suffice to say I had an overdose of my love. While I can ramble on and on, I am sure you will get impatient and want to know whats today’s recipe is about.
Ok back to the topic on hand, it’s not a recipe on its own but one of the basic ingredient needed for Indian cooking. The Tamarind extract or pulp. This is the most frequent and sought out one in my pantry. We in fact stock it in bulk and I am sure I will be lost if I can’t get hold of this.
In Tamil Nadu, you have a wide range of dishes made with tamarind as the base, so imagine its importance. Previously when I used to make Rasam or Sambar, I normally soak 30 mins before squeezing the life out of the poor tamarind. But now whether it really saves me time or not, I though I save myself some moments of anxiety by automating the process. Yes, I soak a big ball size tamarind and really really squeeze it till its last breath and store it in the fridge for a week’s use. Of course before making sure it is really flat, I mean by cooking it.
As I said there is really no recipe, just take a big ball of tamarind and wash once in water. Then soak in water for 30 minutes or as long as you can forget it.
Then if you have a good arm, (or if you want to vent your anger at somebody, imagine they are within your fist!..:)) just squeeze well to extract maximum juice out of it. You can add water and continue doing it till you feel you have really done with it. Throw away the waste.
In a thick bottom pan, pour this water and bring to boil. Again you can have this on stove and forget yourself in better things to do.
Obviously it will continue to boil till it can reach the end, at this stage you will see a really thick paste like in the picture. I know clicking these were the hardest thing to do. They never came out well. Finally hubby dear came to rescue, so you have him to thank for pictures.
Previously I used to extract just the water and store, it used to get fermented. Now after boiling and making a thick paste and refrigerated, all you need to take is just a spoon for either Rasam or Sambar.
If you feel you need to increase the shelf life you can add turmeric and salt. But I haven’t found the need. Even after 2 weeks, I have found it to be fresh.