I was fortunate enough to visit a friend who lived on St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands some years ago. I tasted a tamarind ball and loved it. I recently came across this recipe (although at the time of writing I haven't actually made my own candies yet). Note that some people also add garlic, black pepper or cayenne pepper for flavoring. The time estimate is based on using tamarind paste.
- Remove tamarind flesh from the seeds, by scraping with a knife or by rubbing the seeds and sugar against the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon. (Or, much easier, use tamarind paste!).
- Mix the tamarind flesh with the sugar, and roll into a smooth ball, about 3/4 inch in diameter, with a tamarind seed in the center.
- Roll the ball in granulated sugar, and store in an airtight container.
This is a five star recipe in theory but I think it's too challenging for a mainland girl to pull off! I tried to separate the flesh and it was way too hard. It took me 10 minutes to get enough for a full ball. My hands were so sticky and the tamarind is so delicious (tastes like really good dates) that it was hard to resist just eating it. It's much easier just to eat it plain, and it's very sweet as is. Using the tamarind paste was EASY...it rolled right into little balls, but they did not taste good at all. They were sooo tart; I think the paste is meant to be used as a concentrate for cooking. The paste puckers up your mouth more than eating a fresh lemon. I had never tried tamarind before and now know I LOVE them fresh! I will eat them plain or purchase the candy, but will pass on the challenge of candy-making to someone with more patience and skill. I had fun though - thanks for sharing this unique recipe.