The name ‘tamarind’ comes from an Arab expression meaning 'date of India.'
Tamarind is a slow growing evergreen and is thought to have originated in tropical Africa, but has been grown in India for so long that many believe it to be native there also. It is now widely grown in Latin American.
The fruit is pleasantly acidic, and is used similar to lemon or lime juice in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking, and in Latin America the pulp is also a popular ingredient in thirst quenching beverages.
Tamarind is so sour that Marco Polo claimed the Malabar pirates made their victims swallow a mixture of tamarind and sea water, forcing them to vomit the entire contents of their stomach, revealing any pearls they may have swallowed to conceal them.
Tamarind pulp has more sugar and fruit acid per volume than any other fruit. It is also an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.