Roasted peeled tamarind seeds were a popular snack item amongst the Mangaloreans until a few decades back. The seeds are traditionally considered to be nutritious, to cure indigestion and relieve constipation.
In my childhood days, my friends and I used to suck on the roasted seed, like a piece of hard candy, and then bite into it midway through, when it had softened partially. The seed tasted somewhat like roasted peanuts, and the hard chewing gave our jaw muscles, gums and teeth some good exercise.
As the seeds are hard on the tooth, they are not recommended for people with weak teeth. This age-old recipe shows the ingenuity of the Mangaloreans, where the roasted seeds are transformed into amazingly soft and tasty morsels.
Now-a-days people rarely roast the tamarind seeds or make the following dish in their homes. This may be due to an increasing number of nuclear families, lack of time, a preference for fast food, or the latest trend of eating out in restaurants.
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup tamarind seeds, rinsed
Buttermilk to soak the seeds
Salt to taste
Dry-roast the tamarind seeds until they become aromatic and turn darker in colour. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using a mortar and pestle, gently crush the seeds so that their tough outer coating cracks. Peel off the seed coat with your finger nails and discard. Transfer the peeled seeds to a bowl.
Add enough buttermilk to cover the seeds and stir in salt to taste. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature until the seeds have softened, 12 to 24 hours.
To serve, divide the seeds and the soaking buttermilk into small bowls. Any leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.