The health benefits of tamarind have been well-studied and include the ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body, improve eye health, boost respiratory health, heal skin conditions, improve the digestive system, relieve pain, increase the strength of the immune system, reduce fever, lower cholesterol to improve cardiovascular health, treat piles, prevent cancer, and even protect children against parasites and worms.
That source has “facts” in its name, so the claims must be true. Seeking out evidence from random online sources is an exercise that requires strong awareness to be effective. It’s easy to confirm whatever pre-existing biases we have. Always fun.
That said, when it comes to food, and experimenting with different fruits and vegetables, even some questionable information may be more valuable than none. If we’re looking to flavor our food, we may as well believe that we’re improving our health in conjunction. The placebo effect is well-studied, so we can lean on that for support of consuming the most (perceived) nutritionally powerful food until we can find dependable science.
Today, over a supremely entertaining Russell Wilson/Johnny Manziel matchup and some work emails, I distractedly prepared a bowl of organic oats. Occasionally, I’ll chop up some dates and toss them in for sweetness and nutritional sock. I had that Pavlovian moment in anticipation of the pleasure of this combination. I reached into the cabinet…no dates.
After going through my maple syrup, honey and banana progression (it’s Sunday, football is on, you get it) and failing to identify an open option, I stumbled across a jar of tamarind paste as my fourth and final read. I had no idea how it got there or how long it was waiting to be opened, but I dove in.
Strong choice. Super tart, but with a healthy balance of sweet. A tablespoon in my oats splashed my bowl with an earthy, reddish-brown hue. Thinking through flavor exemplars, unsweetened raspberry jam comes to mind. The taste isn’t easy to capture with words, but others have put forth admirable effort.
The taste of tamarind is completely unique. It’s that bright sour taste that lingers hauntingly in the background of a good pad thai and many other Southeast Asian dishes.
Oats, pad thai, whatever. I feel healthier, confirming my bias.