Dec 172013

Sweet and Sour Treat from Jamaica: Tamarind Balls {Around the World in 12 Dishes} -

It’s time again for a trip around the world from the comfort of our kitchen! As part of the series “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.

This month I was excited to see that we would be “traveling” to Jamaica.  Winter weather has finally arrived to Northern California, so the thought of making a dish from someplace warm was very appealing!

Since we are big fans of tamarind, I decided to make a treat using tamarind paste, which is readily available in most Indian grocery stores in our area (actually imported from East Asia).  Tamarind is also very common in many parts of Latin America, and we saw it at the feria (farmer’s market) during our last trip to Costa Rica.

Tamarind paste (also labeled “wet tamarind”) is typically sold in 1 pound (or perhaps 14 oz) packets, wrapped in plastic.  If you really feel like getting hands on with it, you could go to a Mexican grocery store and find the fruit still in its pod, seeds and all.  I have done that before, and it is quite labor intensive to peel tamarind fruit, since it is so sticky.  Instead, it is much easier to buy the paste, especially since, even when labeled as seedless, you will still have to keep an eye out for the seeds.

Sweet and Sour Treat from Jamaica: Tamarind Balls {Around the World in 12 Dishes} -

Monkey’s task was to remove the paste from the packets and help pull out any stray seeds or strings.  He had fun with it for a while before declaring that it was “Sticky! Gooey!” and deciding it was time to go play with his dinosaur robots (after a good hand-washing!)

Sweet and Sour Treat from Jamaica: Tamarind Balls {Around the World in 12 Dishes} -

I followed the recipe for tamarind balls quite closely, though I had not intended to.  I am the type of person that almost always uses less sugar than is called for in a recipe, but here I ended up adding the full amount.  It may seem like a lot, but trust me – tamarind is so sour that it needs all of that sweetening!  And even after adding the sugar, it is still a dish for those that like sour treats.

Luckily, Monkey and I both do.  We loved this treat, though it was a bit sour for other members of our household 🙂  If you do plan on making it, I recommend only making a half batch.  Although I really loved it, you can only eat a few of at a time, so if you make a full batch, chances are some of it will go to waste.  On the plus side, if you have extras, you can always use them to make tamarind juice!

Sweet and Sour Treat from Jamaica: Tamarind Balls {Around the World in 12 Dishes} -


We also enjoyed getting to know more about Jamaica.  I had trouble finding a storybook about Jamaica from our library, so instead we watched these wonderful videos, in which a speaker of Jamaican patois reads children’s books.  I could listen to this accent all day, and I could tell that Monkey was also charmed by it.  It lead to a discussion about how people from different places speak English differently, as opposed to people like my husband, who have an accent because they grew up speaking a different language.

Since the videos show the actual books, which are written in standard English, it was fun for me to read along and see how they were translated into patois.  My favorite was when “Oh dear me!” was translated to “Kiss my neck!”  That is a phrase I am going to have to start using! 🙂


Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up:

Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share,Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Kid World Citizen, Maroc Mama, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It

If you try a dish from Jamaica, we’d love to hear about it! And don’t forget to download this month’s placemat and passport!  You can also link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

  6 Responses to “Sweet and Sour Treat from Jamaica: Tamarind Balls {Around the World in 12 Dishes}”

  1. This looks really good! Thank you for doing this link-up of treats from my little but beautiful country. We are still in recovery from Tessanne winning The Voice, so seeing this the next morning makes me feel even prouder!! I will definitely partake and link my recipe :). By the way Kiss me neck is VERY popular to the point that we’ve shortened it to “KMT” in most conversations 🙂 and you should check for a video of what the action of “kiss teeth” is :).

    • Jessica, so glad you liked it! Btw I have found so many great recipes on your blog! I’m really enjoying it. And thanks for the note about Kiss me neck, how fun! I did find a video about “kiss teeth” – thanks for the tip. It is a very useful gesture 😉

  2. Will have to try tamarind, never did, I like sour so it’s should work for us too 🙂 Thanks for participating again!

  3. Thanks for including information on finding and buying tamarind paste – when you aren’t accustomed to an ingredient, it’s nice to have those tips and a picture to help 🙂

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