I try to be crafty, but usually whenever I bring home the “crafts” I make during my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, my hubby takes one look and says,”Umm, honey…what’s that?”
Some of my mom friends, if you throw some felt, hot glue and googly eyes in their general direction, in a few minutes they have created felt finger puppets for their kiddo to play with, and they will be smiling from ear to ear because it gives them such joy to take googly eyes and glue and make beauty out of it.
I get how they feel because I revel in the effort it takes to pull together ingredients like chicken, garlic, Thai basil and rice and make something that makes my Thai hubby say after a long day of work,”Alroy mak (So delicious)! This is just what I needed!”
So for Christmas I decided to not even try a DIY gift like I did last year—personalizing white mugs with gold Sharpie marker and then even after baking it in the oven the marker eventually faded off—and just make something food-related: tamarind jam.
“What is tamarind? And what does it go best with?” Were the two questions I got asked the most as I handed off my wrapped up tamarind jam jars to my friends.
Tamarind is a fruit that grows in tropical areas like in Thailand, parts of Africa and Mexico. Whenever I make tamarind paste for my Thai recipes, I can’t resist licking it off my fingers at the very end, and as my lips pucker, I savor the sour, sweet, citrusy flavor.
And tamarind jam goes awesome with:
- Mixed in plain or vanilla yogurt
- Crepes, pancakes, waffles or french toast topping
- Use it for Thai recipes like in my Thai Chicken Pizza or Pad Thai Sauce
- On top of baked brie (I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would be awesome)
- Try it mixed in or on top of anything you want to add a sweet, sour flavor and see what happens!
I’ve always thought it would be fun to try to make tamarind jam, since tamarind paste is nice and thick anyways and all I would have to do is add sugar, and I thought it would probably taste like an orange marmalade of sorts since it’s sour and sweet.
I was super nervous about making it though because I hadn’t ever tried it before, and it was going to be a gift for my friends so if I failed, I would have to rush to Target on Christmas Eve and buy something from the half-empty pilfered shelves to give them.
I did some research on how to make tamarind jam, tested out some recipes to figure out the best sugar to tamarind paste ratio, bought some cute Ball jam jars from Target, and it all came together much quicker and easier than I imagined. The most time consuming part, but also the best part I think, is making the tamarind paste.
To make the paste, I let the tamarind soak in water that just barely covers it for 10 minutes or so and then squeezed it in my hands to get out all the leftover seeds and strings and make it into a nice paste. You can also buy tamarind paste at the Asian market or online, but I haven’t tried making tamarind jam out of that. I think squeezing the tamarind myself is relaxing—like squeezing one of those stress balls!
And as I squished, stirred and tasted my tamarind jam, I felt such love for the process and getting to gift it to my friends. I hope you enjoy it too, and let me know what you try it on!