Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้ว

Several years ago, the boyfriend and I visited his home town of Chiang Mai.  As we were catching a ride into town one morning, the boyfriend had a sudden recollection that the street we were on was the same one his aunt lived on.  It was an amazing realization given that he hadn’t been back to Chiang Mai since he was a child!  After figuring out where we were, he immediately directed our tuk tuk driver to his aunt’s house.  And before I knew it, we were standing together at her front door…  

As the boyfriend had been too busy giving directions to our driver to clue me in to where we were going, I was completely unprepared for the visit.  I had mere moments to work on my pronunciation of sawadee ka, figure out how deeply to bow with my wai, and know how best to introduce myself to his relatives (friend? girlfriend? just some random girl from America?).  

I was so caught off guard that I didn’t really have a chance to take in my surroundings – the house that his grandfather built, the church that his aunt presided over, the beautiful clouds in the sky that he captured in photos from that day… 

Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้ว
Just a few days ago, the boyfriend informed me of yet another detail I was too nervous to pick up on that day in Chiang Mai — the huge tamarind tree in his aunt’s backyard.  He has memories of visiting her house as a boy and going out to the backyard to pick fresh tamarind from that tree.  He and his family members would crack into the brittle pods, tear away the connecting veins, and eat the tamarind fresh as a mid-day snack.  

Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้วIn addition to eating tamarind fresh, I’ve learned that some Thais turn it into a sweet treat by coating the tamarind with sugar, salt, and chili.  This is apparently a fairly common way to eat tamarind (and other sour fruits like green mango) in Thailand.  It works well because the tamarind itself is tart, so you create a perfect little bite that is sweet, salty, spicy, and sour all in one.  It’s the Thai balance of flavors, applied to fruit!

The boyfriend and I are lucky enough to be able to find tamarind in our area and generally enjoy it fresh, just as he did growing up.  But since learning about this new way to eat tamarind, I’ve had a lot of fun making this candy!  I’ve been opting for the simple method of just rolling the fresh tamarind in this coating, but have seen recipes for more formal candy making by boiling the tamarind with sugar and then shaping them into little logs before coating.  Either way, it’s a wonderful snack for when you’re feeling like a little something more than just fruit… 

Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้ว

 

Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้ว

Makes 3-4 servings

Tamarind Candy | Makham Gao | มะขามแก้ว

Ingredients

  • 10-20 fresh tamarind pods
  • 5 Tablespoons coarse sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground chili
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Instructions

  1. Remove the tamarind fruit from its shell and devein it. Then break the tamarind into bite-sized pieces, with one seed in each piece, and gently mold into a ball. If you prefer, you can also keep the tamarind fruit intact.
  2. Combine the sugar, salt, and ground chili in a small bowl. Place the tamarind balls into this mixture and roll around until all of the balls are evenly coated.
  3. You can eat the tamarind candy right away, but they're even better if they have a day or two to sit and allow the flavors to meld together.

 

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • myfudo May 26, 2012, 1:12 am

    I can say that Thai tamarind is the best in the whole world. I am lucky if I can find sweet tamarind here in our area. Really difficult to find.

    Reply
  • Hope June 1, 2012, 2:26 pm

    What a coincidence finding this recipe. I just saw some tamarind in my military commissary today, and wondered what it was and how it was used. If you have commissary privileges, you might check where you shop. My commissary is at Fort Rucker, AL. Good luck!

    Reply
  • Bee, Rasa Malaysia June 7, 2012, 10:16 am

    OMG, I almost forgot about this candy. We have these in Malaysia, too. Love them when I was little and my late grandmother loved it, too.

    Reply
  • Jezmynne May 20, 2013, 1:36 am

    I make this for us as a paleo treat. I just replace the sugar with stevia, doing one tablespoon each. So yummy!

    Reply

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