Although tamarillos are not the cheapest fruit at the greengrocers, when combined with apples, tamarind, onions, sugar, vinegar and spices they power a fabulous chutney with flavours and colour not found on supermarket shelves — and more economical than similar commercial products. Tamarillo ice cream is also a treat you can't beat.
Tamarillos are native to South America but New Zealand is renowned for improving and commercialising them. Normally they are peeled before use. If very ripe, you can pare the skin using a serrated knife. When firmer, remove the stems, make small slits in the pointed end, soak them in boiling for 3-4 minutes, refresh in cold water and peel.
The tamarind tree is native to tropical Africa but also grown in other tropical and sub-tropical areas. The tree produces pods — a little like broad bean pods — which contain small brown beans surrounded by fibres and an acid pulp. When ripe, the pulp and seeds are compressed into cakes. Walnut-sized pieces of the cake are soaked in half a cup of water for about 10 minutes, kneaded and squeezed to extract the flavour, then strained before use. However, most Asian food stores and supermarkets sell tamarind paste that only needs spooning from the jar.
TAMARIND, BEEF & BANANA CURRY
The lemony flavour of tamarind cuts the richness of curries. Combined with water it also acts as an excellent marinade for fish. Or try adding a tablespoon to an Anglaise (custard) to serve with a rich dessert such as a chocolate cake.
750g stewing beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 onions, diced
2 tablespoons each: grated root ginger, tamarind paste
2 teaspoons each: brown sugar, ground turmeric, curry powder
400g can coconut milk plus 1 can water
500g small potatoes (halved if too large)
2 large, slightly underripe bananas
2 teaspoons garam masala
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Cut the beef into 3cm cubes.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Brown the beef in batches and place in a heavy casserole suitable for the oven and hob.
Sauté the onions until softened. Stir in the ginger, tamarind paste, brown sugar, turmeric and curry powder. Add the coconut milk and water. Bring to a simmer and add to the casserole.
Cover and cook for 1 hour in the oven. Stir in the potatoes. Cover and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 50 minutes.
Peel the bananas and cut into 3cm rounds. Place the casserole on the hob and add the bananas and garam masala. Simmer, uncovered, until the bananas have softened, about 10 minutes.
Great garnished with toasted coconut and coriander leaves. Serves 6.
TAMARILLO & TAMARIND CHUTNEY
2 large onions, diced
500g each: tamarillos, apples, peeled and chopped
1-2 teaspoons diced chilli
3cm knob root ginger, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
2 tablespoon tamarind paste
Place all the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir well. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Increase the heat to medium. Boil for 45-60 minutes until the mixture is thick. A wooden spoon drawn through the chutney should briefly leave a channel.
Pour into hot, sterilised jars to the top. Leave to cool. Place a round of baking paper on top of the chutney then seal with a lid. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
QUICK TAMARILLO ICE CREAM
1 large tamarillo, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 litre French vanilla ice cream
Place the tamarillo in a bowl with the brown sugar. Macerate for at least 1 hour. Purée until almost smooth.
Line a 20cm x 10cm loaf pan with plastic film.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer and soften a little. Swirl the tamarillo purée through the ice cream.
Spoon into the lined loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover and freeze until firm.
Great served ‘as is’ or with chocolate cake. Serves 6.