Bulaklak at Usbong ng Sampalok
Divine Enya Mesina tells us how tamarind is done in their home.By: Divine Enya Mesina
Divine Enya Mesina tells us how tamarind is done in their home.
I grew up in a household where sinampalukang manok was an all-time favorite dish. In our home, there is only one kind of souring agent to use—bulaklak at usbong ng sampalok (flowers and young shoots or leaves, respectively, from the tamarind tree).
Hearty and satisfying, this sinigang dish is actually a two-ingredient recipe. Not including patis (fish sauce) and hugas bigas (water used to rinse rice), it only has chicken and the tamarind leaves and flowers. It's an economical and delicious dish that can feed a small crowd—in my family’s case, two adults and seven children.
Today, very few modern cooks still bother with the tedious preparation of boiling and squishing unripe sampalok fruits through a colander, or washing and chopping its young shoots and flowers. It is quicker to reach for a packet of instant tamarind broth powder, after all. I myself advocate fast and easy cooking. But one thing I am still more than willing to do is use free-range chicken cooked in fresh usbong ng sampalok to achieve that authentic sinampalukang manok taste. It just has that sharp, fresh, sour goodness not found in packaged store-bought stuff.
How else can these tamarind greens be used? In some parts of Laguna province, sampalok shoots are added to dinuguan (blood soup with tamarind shoots, anyone?), and in other Asian countries, these are used as an ingredient in curries, stews, and salads.
Photography by At Maculangan | Shot on Location at FTI Market, Taguig City