The last time I had Tamarind Atole in Mexico was during a trip to Veracruz. We were on the road between Tuxpan and Poza Rica when we saw two middle-aged women sitting on the side of the road surrounded by lots of tall bushes, with a sign that read “Tamales and Atole”. And of course, we had to stop and buy some. That’s one of the things that I love about being on the road: you never know what you’re going to find. Whenever we travel by car, we really don’t make a schedule, since we love to stop whenever we see something interesting, like people selling food or produce.
Tamarind Atole is a favorite of many in Mexico (as well as my favorite), and it’s probably the combination of sweet and sour flavors that makes it so popular. Tamarind trees are found in the tropical areas of Mexico, like in the states of Jalisco and Colima, which are big producers of this fruit. The trees, which can grow up to 40 or 50 feet tall, are covered with dense foliage that has a billowing effect on breezy days.
One of the most popular forms in which you will find tamarind in Mexico is in candies, where small balls of tamarind paste are covered in sugar (or in spicy peppers, to make a salty version). Tamarind is also used to make drinks and sauces, and as an ingredient for some stews. It is considered a great source of Vitamin B and Calcium.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
- 4 ounces (100grs) Tamarind, without the shells
- 1 1/4 cup of warm water (for soaking)
- 3/4 sugar
- 4 3/4 cups of water
- 6 Tablespoons of Masa Harina *
* Use the masa harina sold for making tortillas.
1. Soak the peeled tamarind pods in a bowl with 1-1/4 cup of water for 30 minutes. After that time, press the tamarind pods between your fingers, rubbing them to get all the pulp out and form a liquid paste.
2. Pour 4 cups of water in a medium sized saucepan and add the sugar. Add the tamarind paste using a strainer to remove the seeds. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, mix the masa harina with the remaining water until it doesn't show any lumps.
4. When the tamarind mix in the saucepan starts boiling, gently add the masa harina mixture and stir. When the atole comes to a boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Other atole recipes: Guava Atole, Corn Atole and Basic Atoles.