Tamarind is a delightful little thing that is both sweet and sour, is a perfect partner to spicy heat and is utterly moreish! You most likely would have come across it in Asian food, but you are also probably eating it on a more regular basis with your dirty fry-up, as it is also a not so secret ingredient in HP sauce (and Worcestershire sauce too)! In the Caribbean, we use it a lot in our savoury sauces, dips, pepper sauces and confectionary also (if you come across a tamarind ball, you have to try it)!
Luckily enough for us all, it is very easy to find in your local supermarket.
I happened to be messing about with it the other day and found that it would make a divine more 'adult' version of a caramel, particularly with a sprinkle of sea salt to bring out those nuances of sourness amongst the sweet. You can pour this on vanilla ice cream at the liquid state, but I do recommend you try the popcorn. I dare you to not eat a whole jar's worth!!
time: 1hr 15mins total cooking time
serves 2 (stores up to a week in an airtight container)
25g popping corn
1 tbsp vegetable oil
50g granulated sugar
50ml double cream
30g salted butter
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (or paste)
pinch of cinnamon
good pinch of sea salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 120C.
2. For the popcorn, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the corn, place the lid on the saucepan, and shake the saucepan occasionally. After a few minutes the kernels will being to pop, once the regularity of the popping slows, remove from the heat. Give the saucepan a good shake. Set aside.
3. Have the cream and butter measured out and close to hand. In a small saucepan, on a medium heat, add the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally until the the sugar dissolves and starts to turn reddish-brown at the edges.
4. Add the butter, swirling until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the cream and the tamarind. Return to the heat for a minute or so. Stir in the pinch of cinnamon.
5. Spread the popcorn out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pour on the tamarind caramel, ensuring to coat every single popcorn.
6. Place in the pre-heated oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature, sprinkle with salt and then break up any large pieces (or not!), and enjoy.