Something Different-Tamarind

Living in the Mediterranean and being obsessed with Mediterranean food is fine, but every now and again you need to taste something totally different and that’s why I keep returning to Indian food.

With those wonderful spices and warm, fragrant aromas coming from the kitchen, Indian food can be so intoxicating. One dish I absolutely love is Tandoori Chicken. That bright red pigmented chicken just wafting of sweet tamarind and spicy ginger and garlic gets me very excited every time. Tandoori dishes are extremely popular in both India and Pakistan and get their name from a tandoor, a type of cylindrical clay oven with a very fierce heat.

I travelled around India recently and really enjoyed discovering all the spices and seeing how they grow. I stayed in an apartment that had a massive tamarind tree right outside my front door. The fruit is shaped like a long bean, inside which is a sour pulp containing many seeds. The pulp can be pressed to form a ‘cake’ or processed to make a paste. Tamarind tastes a bit like a date but is less sweet (and more sour), and is sometimes known as the Indian date. It is also a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce!

Besides adding flavour, tamarind delivers another bonus when it’s used in a marinade. The fruit’s natural acidity helps to tenderize tougher cuts of meat, breaking down the fibres in the meat. Marinated overnight in a tamarind-tinged liquid, beef becomes succulent and tender—a great technique for less expensive cuts. But be careful when marinating fish or chicken: if left in the marinade too long, the tamarind will begin to chemically “cook” it. Tamarind’s rich, brown colour also deepens the colour of a marinade, which can make a wonderful sauce when reduced.

You can find fresh tamarinds in Palma’s Olivar Market. It is a messy job to remove the pulp from the stones and I have found that the best way to collect all that wonderful flavour is to remove the shells and cook the pulps and stones in a little water for 10 minutes. Then you can pass the puree through a sieve. Alternatively, you can buy tamarind paste.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Salad with Coriander & mint Chutney

Ingredients serves 4

2 chicken breasts, cut into long strips

80g Greek natural yoghurt

1tbsp chopped coriander

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

½ red onion, peeled & sliced

20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 bunches of rocket leaves

2tbsp olive oil

Coriander & mint yoghurt

150g Greek natural yoghurt

4tbsp chopped mint

2tbsp chopped coriander

1 garlic clove, chopped

juice of ½ lime


Blend all the ingredients in a food processor and season to taste.

Tandoori paste

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

3 tbsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp turmeric

½ tsp cinnamon

2 cloves garlic

2 red chilies, deseeded

100g onion, chopped

15g ginger, peeled

juice of one lime

2tbsp tomato paste

1tbsp tamarind puree (optional)

1-2 tbsp water

Sea salt to taste

Dry roast all the spices in a pan over a low flame, untill they begin to release their aroma and essential oils.

Place them a food processor and grind all the spices to a powder.

Add the garlic, chilies, ginger, onion limejuice, tamarind and tomato puree, then blend to a form a paste adding a little cold water if necessary. Season with sea salt. Store in an airtight container for up to 6-8 weeks.

Marinate the chicken strips with 2 tablespoons of tandoori paste, the chopped coriander and 80g of Greek yoghurt for at least 30 minutes. (for a more intense flavour, they be left overnight in the refrigerator)

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, brush with olive oil and cook the chicken pieces, turning occasionally, until nicely glazed and cooked through.

To serve, dress the rocket, avocado, tomatoes & red onion with a little olive oil and sea salt. Divide between 4 plates. Add the tandoori chicken pieces and drizzle with coriander & mint yoghurt.

New potato & tamarind salad

Ingredients serves 6

2 tbsp tamarind pulp or paste

50g golden muscovado sugar

1 tbsp ground cumin

thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped

1.2kg new potatoes

3 tbsp natural low-fat yogurt

4 tbsp chopped coriander

To make the dressing, put the tamarind pulp in a small pan, pour over 75ml boiling water and add the sugar, cumin and ginger. Simmer, without a lid, until the dressing thickens and becomes syrupy, about 10-15 minutes.

While the tamarind is cooking, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes. Return to the boil and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Drain, then cool slightly before halving them. Transfer to a big mixing bowl and spoon over the dressing, gently stirring to make sure the potatoes are well coated. Drizzle over the yogurt; scatter over the coriander, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Also read

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

and receive your invitation to our events