Tamarind Announced As West African Flavor Trend of 2020
Lately, we’ve seen traditional West African flavors popping up all over, with many brands looking to this region for new product ideas. One ingredient that’s particularly promising this year is tamarind.
Tamarind is a pod-like fruit with edible pulp that grows primarily in tropical climates. Its sweet-and-sour flavor is making it more and more popular on US restaurant menus and in grocery products. The fruit of the tamarind tree appears in everything from candy to soft drinks to curries to chutneys. In fact, most people have tasted tamarind even if they don’t realize it—find it in several common products such as Worcestershire sauce.
The taste of tamarind is unique and surprising: it’s tart, sour, and sweet all at once with a flavor akin to a tarter version of a raisin. Tamarind is high in sugar, meaning that it caramelizes well and works great in barbecue sauce and other sweet-tart products. Its distinctive taste and versatility are rapidly making it a feature in glazes, sauces, cocktails, candies, popsicles, non-alcoholic beverages, and much more.
Tamarind comes in different forms depending on your intended use. When adding tamarind to drinks, for example, your options include:
- Tamarind nectar or syrup. Tamarind nectar is concentrated with sugar, water, and other ingredients, ideal for adding to cocktails that should be shaken or stirred.
- Tamarind concentrate or paste. This product has a thicker texture that’s great for blended beverages such as margaritas.
- Agua de tamarindo. Tamarindo is a popular drink in Mexico; it also makes an appearance in bottled sodas.
Other promising flavors to combine with tamarind include floral aromas (such as honey and rose), roasted flavors (such as coffee and chocolate), spicy aromas (such as vanilla, pineapple, and cognac), and green aromas (such as bell pepper, butternut, and camembert).
Right now, tamarind is a premium ingredient found mostly in international food sections of grocery stores, in specialty shops, and on fine-dining restaurant menus. There is plenty of room in the market for experimenting with this exceptional flavor ingredient to create new and unique food and beverage products.