Salted Tamarind Popcorn

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.