Tamarind exported to over 60 countries; endless benefits from all parts
Tamarind and its seeds are major ingredients in many sectors including food, medicine and textile industries. Tamarind products have a great role in the total spice export revenue earned by India. Also tamarind trees are capable of resisting storm and drought.
Tamarind is exported from India to about 60 countries. Karnataka is the largest producer of tamarind in the country. About 18 percent of the national production is from Kerala and half of this is from Palakkad district. Thiruvananthapuram is in the second spot in tamarind production in Kerala.
One kilogram of tamarind without seed costs Rs 90-120. Juice, concentrate, sweets, Puli Inchi (tamarind ginger delicacy), Puli Peda and other food items can be made using tamarind. It is also added in various curries for taste and flavour.
Tamarind seed is used as raw material in many industries these days. It is already popular as a cattle feed and a catalyst for solidifying rubber latex. Tannin, a chemical taken from the shell of tamarind seed, is used to dye clothes in brown colour.
The carbon taken by burning the seed is a purifying agent in Ayurveda. A type of carbohydrate extracted from tamarind seed is available in the market and is used to increase thickness of the jute and cotton threads. Tamarind seed is priced Rs 15 per kilogram.
Tamarind seed is highly nutritious and contains upto 17-20 percent protein. Chemical called Pectin extracted from the seed is added in bakery products like bread, biscuit, jam and jelly.
The seed is an essential ingredient in book binding and plywood industries. An oil made from tamarind seed is added in paint and varnish too.
Tamarind leaves and stem
Leaves and stem of tamarind is widely used as medicine in Ayurveda and pharmaceutical business. Tamarind leaves are used in Kottamchukkadi Choornam and stems are added in Rasnadi Choornam.
Tender leaves and flowers are added in curries and pickles. This is priced Rs 30 per kilogram. Tamarind wood is used to make Ayurveda medicines.
Tamarind species to be protected
Dr Jalaja S Menon, assistant professor at Agricultural University and head of Madakkathara Cashew Research Station, said that there are attempts to preserve tamarind species. There are different varieties of tamarind.
In Kerala, tamarind seed is mostly used as cattle feed. Seeds are first sent to Tamil Nadu before exporting to foreign countries because the machinery to remove the shell of tamarind seed is available only in Tamil Nadu, she added.