In my Christmas shopping haste, I dared to venture to the place I hate the most… Super Wal-Mart.
Everything about Super Wal-Mart makes me want to run away screaming. The hideous white aisles of cheap products, the ridiculously long check-out lines, and those countless moments when you forget one item and walk a quarter mile to the other end of the store to find it. But you don’t find it, because you ask a less-than-amiable store associate of the item’s whereabouts and learn it’s actually on the end of the store you originally were.
There is one thing about Wal-Mart that I enjoy, however. Seeing a large customer presence in the produce section. And every now and then they showcase a unique produce item.
I somehow managed to wander into this department and noticed they had whole tamarinds on sale. I quickly grabbed some. And seconds later I looked to another peculiar item… guavas.
I thought to myself, I bet I could throw these together into an easy recipe.
Self-provoked challenge accepted.
Except one thing – I had never actually cooked with raw tamarinds. And I never actually tried a guava. Let’s just say this random inspiration turned out to be a bout of luck, because the finished result was delectable.
Before I get into the recipe details, let’s understand the whole food ingredients.
What is tamarind? Tamarind is a legume that is found mainly in warm, tropical climates. Inside the pods there is a sticky, sweet and tart fruit pulp around hard seeds (you want to eat the pulp, not the seeds). You can usually find tamarind paste in the grocery store, but you don’t see the whole fruit as often. There are many health benefits of this food, including fiber, antioxidants (cancer fighting stuff), iron (red blood cell production), and B-vitamins.
Guava is also a tropical fruit, low in fat and calories but high in power-packed vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium (regulates heart rate and blood pressure).
Let’s just say you will have no shortage of fiber from this meal. You can thank me later. Now let’s get to it.
- 1-2 cups cooked brown rice*
- 1 mango
- 2-3 guavas
- 12 oz whole tamarind seed pods
- garnish of your choice (I chose pumpkin seeds, you could try sesame or chia seeds too if you like)
- *I usually cook a large batch of brown rice at the beginning of the week so I can mix in with other ingredients. It's one of my "staples" and I find it extremely easy to cook various recipes if I have pre-cooked brown rice on hand. If you haven't cooked your brown rice, allow 45 minutes to cook. Using a ratio of 2 cups water to 1 cup dry rice, bring ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer approximately 45 minutes until water is absorbed, or until rice is soft and cooked through. Drain any excess water.
- Crack and peel shells off of the hard tamarind outer shells. You'll want to get rid of the hard parts, as well as the veiny parts. You'll be left with a sticky legume pod. This part is the most time consuming.
- Place legume pods in a large skillet pan, and cover with water.
- Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove pods from water and place in a bowl. Keep water for later.
- Using a large spoon, begin mashing and pressing on the pods to until the seeds separate from the pulp.
- Toss the entire mixture back into the saucepan with the water, and add another 1/2 cup of water.
- Simmer on low, mixing until you get a smooth consistency. By now you should be able to clearly see the seeds.
- Separate the seeds from the sauce by straining through a colander into a bowl. You can use a spoon to really press the liquid through the colander.
- Now you have the tamarind sauce!
- Cut mango and guava into slices or chunks.
- Mix the fruit and tamarind sauce in with the rice, and garnish with your seed topping.
- **Keep in mind on a plant-based whole foods diet, there are no serving size guidelines or calorie restrictions for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. You can eat until you are satisfied. Keep seeds and nuts to 1 or 2 handfuls a day.
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