The tamarind is native to tropical Africa and grows wild throughout the Sudan. It was introduced into India so long ago; it has often been reported as indigenous there also. It is extensively cultivated in tropical areas of the world. Sometime during the sixteenth century, it was introduced into America and today is widely grown in Mexico. I have a friend from Mexico who always has a pitcher of "fresca" in the fridge. Not the soft drink in a can, but a lovely, light fruit drink of some sort. Very refreshing. The cook time is the soaking time.