Thai food had once been my extra super favourite in the whole world. It was also one of the first things I knew I couldn’t eat anymore as I began healing from Crohn’s disease. The last time I had Thai food from a restaurant, I was doubled over in such horrible toot cramps that I swore I would never eat it again. After doing the research I needed to do to create this recipe, I now know why. I knew that some conventional Thai food was loaded with sugar, but holly smokaroondles, I didn’t know there was that much sugar. Seriously. The combo of vinegar and sugar in pad thai is a perfect recipe to create the biggest toot bomb to ever be ballooned in the belly, especially if you’re already dealing with gut and microbiome issues.
Not to worry my Thai food lovers. I am here for you. I have you covered with this gem. Last week when we rocked the mango salad, I talked about my (now embarrassing) discovery of Sambal (seriously – how did you all know about it and I didn’t), so I thought I’d share some info on another ingredient that I have had before but never bought before. This one will for sure be knew to a few of you… at least I hope so.
Tamarind: so delicious in pad thai
The first time I ever heard of tamarind was in the Caribbean and I didn’t like it at all. It was formed into this overly sweet, sugar coated jelly ball that made me want to yak-adoodle. I’ve had a bad taste for tamarind since then. But then I saw it in all these Thai recipes and decided to dig a little deeper.
As it turns out, tamarind, as I suspected, is actually a deliciously sour and sweet fruit. No sugar needed here. Tamarind is often considered an herb but it is in fact a fruit.
Wikepdia filled me on the following interesting world wide uses of tamarind.
- Guadeloupe: used in jams and syrups.
- Trinidad and Tobago: rolled into balls (5 cm in diameter) with white granulated sugar and a blend of spices to create tambran balls.
- Mexico: sold in various snack forms: dried and salted; or candied.
- Egypt: served as a sour, chilled drink.
- Southern Kenya: the Swahili people use it to garnish legumes and also make juices.
- Somalia: used to give rice some sour flavour.
- Madagascar: fruits and leaves are a well-known favorite of the ring-tailed lemurs, providing as much as 50% of their food resources during the year.
- Northern Nigeria: used with millet powder to prepare kunun tsamiya, a traditional pap mostly used as breakfast, and usually eaten with bean cake.
- Turkey: consumed as a sweetened cold drink.
- Myanmar: young and tender leaves and flower buds are eaten as a vegetable. A salad dish of tamarind leaves, boiled beans, and crushed peanuts topped with crispy fried onions is served in rural Myanmar.
- Philippines: used in foods like sinigang soup, and also made into candies. The leaves are also used in sinampalukan soup.
- Thailand: bred specifically to be eaten as a fresh fruit: it is particularly sweet and minimally sour. It is also sometimes eaten preserved in sugar with chili as a sweet-and-spicy candy.
Are there health benefits of tamarind? You bet!
- Used as an Ayurvedic medicine for gastric problem, digestion problems and cardio protective activity.
- Tamarind can be used as a mild laxative.
- Supports liver health and gall bladder activity.
- High in vitamin C.
- Healing to skin inflammation.
- Being a good source of antioxidants, tamarind helps fight against cancer.
- Tamarind is used as blood purifier.