Tamarind. You may or may not have heard of it. It comes as a concentrated dry or wet pulp, as a gooey concentrate that is almost black, or in whole pods. Tamarind, in whatever form, carries a weighty nutritional and medicinal punch.
Grown in India, and indigenous to tropical Africa, tamarind made its way to the Americas via the Spanish Conquistadors and Portuguese Explorers. Here in Arizona, there are mounds of tamarind pods in the bulk produce section of most grocery stores, usually next to Jamaica (hibiscus). Both are used in Agua Frescas. Tamarind is also commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cooking. It is used as an acidic or souring flavor, much like lemon juice in Western cuisine.