What Is Mexican Tamarind Candy?

by | Nov 25, 2013 | Food

We all know what candy is but, how many of us are familiar with tamarind let alone its use as a candy? First of all, tamarind does literally grow on trees – it is the fruit of a tree that is actually classified as pea like (leguminous) and belongs in the same botanical family as beans (Fabaceae) this tree originated in tropical Africa but; because of the fruit found within its pods, it is now grown in many of the world’s tropical or subtropical zones. It is even a commercial plantation crop in the Southern States – Florida in particular. The name tamarind derives from the Arabic for “Indian date” and is not to be confused with the South American tamarin monkey.

The Many Uses Of Tamarind

The tamarind fruit can be eaten directly from the tree and it also has many culinary uses covering a wide range of dishes from curry flavoring to Tamarind Candy (it is said to be one of the “secret” ingredients for Worcestershire sauce). Is also widely used in traditional medicines and can even be used to produce a metal polish especially suitable for copper, bronze and brass. The tree’s bright red wood is ideal for furniture and wood floor making.

So useful is the tamarind tree that Spanish colonists in the 16TH Century planted it in huge numbers throughout Mexico and, today, Mexico is one of the world’s largest consumers of tamarind products. It is used as an ingredient in many Mexican dishes; pulp from less ripe fruit can impart a sour taste to a dish while fully ripened fruit is sweet enough to be used in desserts and for flavoring different types of candy. Many types of Mexican chamoy are made from a tamarind base. Tamarind fruit can also be candied – as in crystallized or glazed fruit – to be eaten as a sweet snack rather than a basic Tamarind Candy.

Are We Sure That We Know What Candy Is?

In our American version of the English language, candy officially refers to crystallized sugar but our minds associate the word with what the English would call sweets and the Mexicans would use the word “dulce” – i.e. confectionary in all its different forms from hard (to be sucked) to soft (to be chewed) to candies that literally melt in your mouth. One thing for sure, whenever your tastes lead you to search for Mexican candies, you will find many adaptations of Tamarind Candy.

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