Sunday, August 19, 2012

More Fusion: An Experimental Sorbet

Spiced Tamarind Sorbet

Spiced tamarind sorbet with henna leaves (because we couldn't find anything else for garnish!)

Tamarind based drinks are pretty common in Bangladesh. They're usually served cold and spiced to provide relief from the summer heat. Summer temperatures easily surpass 35 degrees Celsius here (even though Google lies and insists it's 28 degrees!) and as such, I imagined a sorbet would be an even more welcome comfort. I've been looking up sorbet recipes from around the web, and I'm adapting this recipe from the Coconut Raita blog's Tamarind and Lime Sorbet post. I'm pretty proud of it - it's essentially replica of our family's usual tamarind drink in sorbet form, and it's even been given a thumbs up by my grandma who's notoriously snobby about good food!

The recipe below serves 5 people generously, and tamarind sorbet generally works as a great palate cleanser.

  • 200.00 g of dried tamarind
  • 400.00 g of sugar
  • 1.00 teaspoon of powdered cumin
  • 0.50 teaspoons of powdered chilli
  • 1.00 teaspoon of salt

A ball of dried tamarind from Meherpur, Bangladesh

  • Take 500.00 ml of water in a pot and put it on medium heat.
  • Add the sugar to the water and heat till it dissolves entirely.
  • Bring the syrup to boil and then take off the heat, and leave to cool for a few minutes.
  • Pour the syrup into a non-metal container and add the dried tamarind to it.
  • Leave the tamarind to steep in the syrup for 30 minutes at least.
  • Once steeped, remove the tamarind solids from the syrup, squeezing to release the liquids and pastes.
  • Repeat this till all the solids are removed. By the end of the process, you should have removed all the seeds, strings etc. leaving behind a deep brown tamarind syrup with some tamarind paste at the bottom.

The bits you should be discarding from the  syrup

The paste that should be left behind

  • Strain this tamarind syrup into another new non-metal container, leaving behind the pastes.
  • Add a little of the tamarind paste to the strained tamarind syrup to thicken it slightly.
  • Keep the rest of the tamarind paste - it can still be used in curries or to make other tamarind based drinks. Hopefully I'll get around to posting the relevant recipes!
  • Add the spices and salt to the tamarind syrup and mix thoroughly.
  • Transfer the container to the freezer and leave to freeze for 8 hours.
  • Remove the container from the freezer every hour and break up the ice that is forming with a fork to ensure the sorbet has a fine, crystalline texture.
  • Freezing times will vary depending on climate - in Bangladesh with the blackouts, it took two hours for even a little of the mixture to freeze in the beginning. After that, I had to leave it to freeze overnight before it was properly solid!
  • If you're in Bangladesh, once the sorbet is done take it out of the freezer and serve immediately as it melts very fast!

 The sorbet at various stages of freezing

Additional Information
Pretty much all the ingredients in this recipe are to taste - more sugar if you like your sorbet sweeter or more chilli if you want more zing. A note on the amount of sugar in this recipe - it may seem like a lot but that is what's needed to counteract the sourness of Bangladeshi tamarind. If you're using sweet varieties of tamarind you will need less. The only other bit of advice I have is to go easy on the cumin, as it can easily overpower the flavour of the tamarind.

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