Tamarind Recipes

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Sweet Tamarind Drink (Nuoc Da Me) Recipe

Nước đá me, literally "tamarind ice cubes" in Vietnamese, is a fairly common drink in Vietnam. It's served in various ways, such as with salted key lime rind preserves, but today I made it with fresh pineapple purée. It's sweet and tart at the same time but most important, it's so refreshing!

Tamarind is quite popular in Asian and South Asian cooking. I usually eat the fresh pods as they are, and use tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder for cooking.


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Thai Iced Tea (Tra Thai in Vietnamese) Recipe

Thai iced tea (trà Thái in Vietnamese) is my favorite drink whenever I go to a phở house. I really like the contrast of flavors and temperatures between the hot broth and the cold tea.

The procedure for making trà Thái is similar to cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee). The tea is brewed for a long time to achieve a strong flavor, then sweetened with Asian rock sugar and condensed milk. It's served chilled with a lot of ice and a splash of evaporated milk.


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Punjabi-Style Chaat (Layers of Tomatoes, Raita, Ginger Garbanzo beans, Mint Sauce and Tamarind Chutney) Recipe

Chaat is an Indian snack. There are many varieties but they all use similar ingredients. If you think of it as in Mexican food where you see salsa, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and cheese, repeated in many different dishes, similarly chaat is made up of a crispy fried bread called puri and garbanzo beans, tomatoes, yogurt, taramind, mint sauce and spices.

This particular version of chaat is one Lulu's aunt makes whenever she has a family get-together at her house. Since it's more constructed than many of the other chaats, it's got distinct layers. She usually serves it with potatoes as well, which I didn't have on hand; I'm going to post my personal favorite later on, which is called dahi papdi chaat.

For those of you who think Indian food is mostly butter chicken, tandoori chicken or palak paneer, there is a whole world of cuisine that I've been introduced to since I got married I never knew existed. I love South Indian food in particular and I'll try to put up some recipes from that region.


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Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish and Pineapple Soup) Recipe

Can chua cá literally means sour fish soup in Vietnamese.The composition of the soup is the Vietnamese equivalent of tom yum Thai soup.  The sour flavor is from the kaffir lime leaf and tamarind powder and the sweetness is from the crushed pineapple.

Recently, I made this soup for our dinner guests. I served it with a side bowl of steamed jasmine rice. At the end of the meal, I was surprised to see all the bowls completely empty, given that the flavors are somewhat unusual. But they seemed to love it, so I'm guessing you might as well.

Vietnamese Sweet and sour soup


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Indian Tomato Chutney with Mustard Seeds and Garlic (Tamatar Ki Chutney) Recipe

Tamatar Ki chutney is an Indian tomato chutney flavored with fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and garlic. It's usually served with basmati rice or roti (an Indian wheat-basde flat bread). I love this chutney so much and we make it so often that I usually use the leftover chutney as the base for the tomato sauce in my pasta. I recently used that sauce for my vegetarian lasagna.

Since I married Lulu, I discovered a wide range of sauces and chutneys that were totally unfamiliar to me. Lulu's grandma was an amazing cook. When she discovered that I like to cook as well, she was very exticed to teach me all her secret recipes. In most of the world, cooking techniques are orally transmitted from mothers to daughters. I always find it amazing that these recipes, techniques and tips have managed to survive for as long as they have. I feel very fortunate to have learned from such talented cooks like my grand-mother-in-law.


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