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I {heart} Tamarind. For the longest time, I never even knew what it was. All I knew was there was a certain sauce at the Indian restaurant that I wanted to buy by the bottle so I could put it on every thing. Slightly sweet and tangy and full of an indescribable flavor. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Anyway, I just went about my life blissfully ignorant of what made up this sauce and how it was going to become an obsession years later.

Several years ago my cousin Michelle and I went on a field trip to Biscayne Bay near Homestead, Florida – the last city on the Florida mainland. She is a marine mammal researcher and we were going to the bay to get samples of plants that make up the diet of wild manatees. She had a friend in her lab, whose family was from Homestead and she told us we had to go to this huge fruit stand, called Robert is Here! famous for tropical milkshakes. I love milkshakes, hands down, so I was there. When we got to Robert is Here! we were overwhelmed. It was unlike any fruit stand I had ever been to. The sheer size of it was incredible. There was fresh fruit, jars of jellies and chutneys, sodas made up of tropical fruits, Florida souvenirs, huge gummy alligators, you name it. We finally found the area where they did the milkshakes and stood in line. On the board they had their daily offerings, regular things you would expect like pineapple, mango and papaya, and then some interesting ones like key lime, then there were those I was totally unfamiliar with: Fruits like Monstera Deliciosa, Mamey, Atemoya and Tamarind. I asked what tamarind tasted like (not knowing at the time that it was the star ingredient of my favorite sauce at the Indian restaurant) and the lady told me it was like sour gummy bears. It sounded weird, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what that would taste like in fruit form, so obviously, I ordered it. I can honestly say it was love at first sip. Something about the sweet and creamy vanilla frozen yogurt base, (or was it ice cream, I can’t quite recall) and the tang of the tamarind was so delicious. It was not at all sour gummies, it was just really great. So we went ahead and bought a bag of tamarinds and really enjoyed them our whole trip!
Once I knew the name of this delicious fruit, I saw it everywhere and finally put two and two together that it was the ingredient in that great sauce. I was hooked.

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Recently we went to an Indian market and I picked up a jar of Tamarind-Date Chutney. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I got in the kitchen started playing and was inspired.

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I marinated some chicken thighs in about ½ a bottle of it along with some minced garlic cloves, cumin, coriander, garam masala and chili powder.

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Then, I sauteed some onions and peppers in my cast iron skillet. Added the chicken, browned it on all sides.

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I had veggies from the Farmer’s Market – carrots, cauliflower and a bag of frozen peas. I quickly blanched them, while preheating the oven to 425 F (which is the new 350F in my mind).

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Chicken and sauce went in a glass baking dish and all my veggies got piled in there and baked it for about 45 minutes.
We ate bowls of it and sopped up the juice with fresh pita bread from the farmer’s market!

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Goes really good with a nice dollop of yogurt!