Tamarind paste is a key ingredient in Thai cooking and you will probably have eaten it without knowing it. However, if you taste the paste by dipping a finger in it and licking your finger you will find it has a sour, tangy taste which startles the taste buds. When combined with other ingredients its taste is changed. Tamarind paste is easily found in Asian stores or online if it is not stocked in your local supermarket.
Messing about in the kitchen with tamarind paste and coconut milk, ginger and garlic to prepare a Thai dish, I found that the tamarind flavor came through too strongly. It needed something sweet to dampen down its unique taste and I chose freshly squeezed orange juice. The resulting dish was no longer particularly Thai but it did produce a new chicken dish with a lovely thick, glossy sauce which I then topped with chopped cilantro. Brown rice is a good accompaniment.
2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x skinless chicken legs
1 large onion – chopped
2 large cloves of garlic – grated
1 x 2 inch piece of ginger – grated
1 tsp. turmeric
1 can of lite coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
Cilantro – finely chopped (enough for sprinkling over the top)
Heat oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the chicken legs and sear on both sides until nicely browned – set aside.
Add onion to the casserole dish (you can add more oil if needed) and let soften and brown before adding the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes until you can smell the spices.
Stir in the tamarind paste and when smooth pour in the coconut milk.
Place chicken legs in casserole dish, bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown rice.