Jamaican Tamarind Balls

You might have used tamarind in chutneys, dips, Tamarind JuiceTamarind Sauces, or maybe in some Indian curries, but have you ever thought of making a snack out of it? Well, if your whole concept of tamarind is limited to dips and chutneys, then you are missing out a lot on a fantastic ingredient! Read All About Tamarind.

Tamarind balls close up

Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that is native to tropical regions. It is usually known for its dark brown pulp, which is sweet and sour in flavor. Because of its pate-like pulp, people often underestimate its use and restrict it to just making dips and adding tarts to dishes. However, the recipe we are going to share with you today will change your perspective of tamarind completely!

This recipe is a Jamaican snack recipe that uses only two ingredients. Tamarind pulp and coconut sugar. That’s it!

Also known as tamarind ball candy, these balls are coated with sugar. These are sweet, with a slight hint of tart, and are super delicious. Above all, these are super easy to make. If you know your way around tamarind pulp, you can make this dish within 10 minutes. You don’t need any equipment or ingredient. The dish is easy to make, flavorful and comforting.

And because we are using coconut sugar, you get a healthy version. These tamarind balls are healthy, vegan, and very flavorful.

tamarind tree for making tamarind balls

What Is Tamarind?

You might have used tamarind pulp in several African and Indians dishes. Also known as Tamarindus indica, the tamarind we use is in the form of pulp. But, in reality, tamarind is in the form of small pods that contain the pulp. These pods come from a hardwood tree. This tree is indigenous to the African lands, but you can also find it growing in Asian and tropical regions, especially in Pakistan and India.

The pods are shaped like beans and are rich in fibrous pulp, which has a sweet and sour flavor. Tamarind is widely used in African, Middle-eastern, Mexican, and Indian cuisine and is also known as “date of India.”

When unripe, these pods are green in color and are very sour. However, as they are ripe, the color changes to brown, and the flavor gets sweeter.

Tamarind has been used in several ways since ancient times. It is one of those ingredients that is used in cooking, medicines, and household as well. The ingredient is versatile and full of several benefits.

tamarind pods on a beige background

Health Benefit Of Tamarind

Apart from enjoying delicious dips, sauces, and chutney, you have to incorporate them into your daily diet to get the most from it. Thanks to its many medicinal properties, tamarind offers several health benefits. These are:

  • Tamarind is packed with vitamins. It is rich in Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. Furthermore, it also contains Vitamin B5, B6, vitamin C, and K in small quantities.
  • It is also rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
  • Tamarind contains an antioxidant called flavonoids, which is known for regulating cholesterol levels in the blood. As a result, it reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and thus improves your heart health.
  • Because it is high in magnesium, it works as an anti-inflammatory. Also, magnesium helps in aiding in about 600 different body functions.
  • Furthermore, it also has anti-diabetic properties, thus help in lowering the level of sugar in the blood.
  • It contains a compound that has antimicrobial effects. Furthermore, it also contains anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. For this reason, it has been used to treat malaria and other diseases caused by bacteria and viruses since ancient times.
  • It also helps in reducing fats around the liver.
  • It also aids in weight loss.

tamarind ball ingredients on a white background

How To De-Shell Tamarind?

Did you know that tamarind comes from pods? Although you are familiar with the pulp you get in a jar at any grocery store, it actually comes from pods. So, you will have to skip buying a pulp jar for Tamarind ball candy and look for the Tamarind Pods.

Now, if you are wondering how you will get the pulp from the pods, the process is pretty simple. All you have to do is open the pod using your fingers. As you apply a little pressure on these, the pods will pop open. Next, you have to take the stem out first. Next, you have to remove the flesh and seeds.

Sometimes separating the seeds from the flesh is a bit of work. But a little pain is worth it! You can wear gloves and massage the pulp to get rid of the seeds and remaining shell pieces.

Can I Use Store-Bought Tamarind Pulp?

The answer is no! Although store-bought tamarind pulp is easy to get, it is very soft and liquid for this recipe. If you use it, the final product will be runny, and you won’t be able to handle the tamarind balls. For this reason, it is ideal you use fresh tamarind pulp.

Where Can I Get Tamarind?

Tamarind pulp is readily available at any grocery store, but because premade pulp won’t work for our recipe, we need tamarind pods. No worries here! You can find these pods easily in the Caribbean or Asian aisle of any grocery store. These are small pods and are golden-brown.

Tamarind pulp with coconut sugar in a stainless steel bowl

How To Make Tamarind Balls?

You haven’t come across a more straightforward recipe than this. Making tamarind balls is a piece of cake. The only time you have to invest in is getting the pulp out of the pod.

Once you are done with it, next, you have to mix it with coconut sugar. Mix it using your hands until they are combined evenly. 

Next, you have to make balls out of them. Coat them in coconut sugar, and that’s it. Jamaican Tamarind balls are ready.

Making tamarind balls in the palm of your hands

How To Store Tamarind Balls?

This Jamaican tamarind ball candy is a perfect snack for any time of the day. And the best part is, you can make it in batches and store it for the rest of the week. Although I doubt I won’t last that long, you can place these balls in an air-tight container and place them in the refrigerator or a cool place. These will last several weeks.

tamarind balls rolled in coconut sugar on a sheet pan

Tips And Tricks For Perfect Tamarind Balls

Here are a few tips that help you get the perfect tamarind balls:

  • Because the mixture can stick to your hands and get messy, don’t forget to wear gloves before mixing it.
  • Tamarind mixture can be a bit sticky thus tricky to roll into balls. If you are finding it too difficult, you can sprinkle extra coconut sugar so that it gets in excellent shape.
  • While de-seeding tamarind,  make sure the pulp doesn’t have seeds, or it will be very unpleasant while eating.
  • If you want the flavor of these Jamaican balls to be more savory, add a little black pepper or hot sauce. It will give the balls excellent heat and kick. Plus, the combination of sweet, sour, and spice is heavenly.
  • If you don’t have coconut sugar available, you can use turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw as well.
  • Make sure you store the jar in a cool place.

Other Jamaican Desserts To Prepare

  1. Jamaican Spice Bun
  2. Jamaican Vegan Sweet Potato Pudding
  3. Fruit Cake
  4. Cornmeal Pudding
  5. Coconut Drops
  6. Gizzada
  7. Blue Draws
  8. Cassava Pone

close up tamarind balls

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Nutrition

(Per serving)
  • Energy: 57 kcal / 238 kJ
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Carbs: 15 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 30 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • For:
  • 24 balls

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Crack the tamarind pods by applying pressure on them using your fingers. Remove the stalk and take out the pulp.
  2. Squeeze the pulp to get rid of any shell pieces or seeds within the pulp.
  3. Next, add 1 ½ cup of coconut sugar and mix well using your hands until it gets stiff. It might take some time to combine the two ingredients.
  4. Divide the mixture into 24 equal pieces.
  5. Roll each portion between the palm of your hands until it forms a ball.
  6. Roll each ball in coconut sugar until it is coated well.
  7. Store in an air-tight jar.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Chef Marsha

I am Marsha Lee, Chef, Owner and Operator of Eat With Your Eyes LLC, located in Mount Vernon, New York.

My passion for food began at an early age, while still a child in St. Andrew, Jamaica. I began playing with simple breakfast and fried food recipes I would see, until I mastered them, based on my critics.