Tamarind has been described as one of the common and most important trees of India. India is the world's top producer, exporting several thousands of tonnes of seed, seed powder and fruit pulp each year. Tamarind trees are often grown in gardens and along roadsides and are cultivated commercially in plantations. India is the only producer of tamarind on a commercial scale. A large part of India's production of tamarind is exported to West Asia, Europe and America, where it is used for food specialties like Worcestershire sauce. This spice also comes in the forms of pulp and juice concentrates which mainly go into the preparation of cool drinks, seafoods and a range of sophisticated cuisine. Tamarind is native to tropical America and this plant is widely used throughout Asia and it has acquired the common name asam, meaning, simply, 'acid' as they are used as acid flavours in the food Industry. The many tamarind cultivars are divided into two basic categories: sweet and sour. India mainly grows sour cultivars in orchard-like plantations.Tamarind is widely used thorough the world. Tamarind pulp concentrate is widely used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.
Tamarind can be found in various forms like concentrated pulp with seeds, a canned paste, whole dried pods, or powdered. It is available in Indian and some other Asian markets. There is a wide variety of tamarind products available in the market for consumption. They include tamarind paste, seedless dried tamarind, tamarind pods, tamarind concentrate, tamarind syrup, tamarind drink concentrate, tamarind sauce, tamarind chutney, tamarind dipping sauce, tamarind gelatin, tamarind candy etc.Tamarind may also be used as a base for delicious raw or cooked chutneys, its fruity acidity combining well with sugar, chilli and other flavours. Moreover tamarind concentrates are extensively used as an ingredient and an effective substitute for vinegar, tomatoes and lemon juice.
Tamarind, an essential ingredient in the South Indian cuisine and a host of processed food items across the globe, can also offer livelihood security in rural and tribal areas, experts indicate. Its organized processing, supported by cold storage facilities, is found to be ideal for ensuring market price stability and rural employment. India is the largest producer and exporter of range of raw and processed spices. Processed spices demand is directly linked with its consumption in food processing industry and this is set to grow in India in coming period with growth of population and fast changing food habits as well as increase in spending power of the middle and upper class in India.