- Joined Mar 29, 2002
I was poking around a Cambodian grocery store yesterday. They had jars of tamarind leaves but I don't recall any dish that uses tamarind leaves. So what do you do with it?
My mother has a cousin who cooked delicious sinampalukang manok. She would make a huge pot each time and it always amazed me how she could strip the leaves from the tiny branches so fast. I cooked a pot of sinampalukang manok a few days ago and I found out that stripping the leaves from the branches is a combination of practice and patience.
The tiny leaves are stripped from the stems and the stems are discarded. How? Hold the upper tip of a branch between the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Then slide the forefinger and thumb of the other hand down the branch and the leaves fall off. Sounds easy enough but I didn’t get quite the hang of it until I was halfway through the pile of leaves I took from the tree in the garden.
as an added step, I like to bruise them a little to help them release their sour notes better.
You will need about a cup of tamarind leaves for 750 g. of cut-up chicken (i.e., one whole chicken weighing 1.1 kg. minus the breast which I will be using for something else in the future) which should be sufficient for four persons.
Simply saute four cloves of garlic (crushed and peeled), an onion (thinly sliced) and two tomatoes (roughly chopped) in about two tablespoonfuls of hot vegetable oil. Pour in four to five cups of water and add the tamarind leaves. Bring to the boil (watch the tamarind leaves change color), add the chicken, bring to the boil once more, season with patis (fish sauce) and simmer for about 40 minutes.