The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world – the fruit exhibits laxative effects due to its high quantities of malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium bitartrate. Its use for the relief of constipation has been documented throughout the world.
As the fruit matures it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic) and the ripened fruit is considered more palatable. Tamarind pulp is a key ingredient in flavoring curries and rice in south Indian cuisine.
Different parts of tamarind (T. indica) are recognized for their various medicinal properties. A study reported that the seed, leaf, leaf veins, fruit pulp and skin extracts of tamarind possessed high phenolic content and antioxidant activities.
India is the largest producer of tamarind, United States is second in net production quantity. The consumption of tamarind is widespread due to its central role in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Americas, especially Mexico.
A traditional food plant in Africa, tamarind has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.