Tamarind is a flavour Indian cooks know well, but it's about to set the world on fire too as it was named the flavour of 2024 in a recent flavour trend report.
The end of the year signals a flurry of predictions for the next one, from Pantone declaring what colour everyone will paint their walls to mixologists deciding which drink will be the most ordered. Similarly, McCormick & Co. releases an annual Flavor Forecast trends report which is created by a team of chefs, culinary professionals, food technologists and trend trackers who put their minds and skills together to determine which flavour will be the next one to take over the world and for 2024, tamarind has emerged the winner.
As per their report, sour flavours are set to dominate kitchens worldwide bringing a crisp balance to dishes beyond their usual comfort zones. The slightly sweet but mostly tangy fruit is a familiar face in the Indian kitchen but also finds a home in the Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico cuisines. As the largest producer of tamarind in the world there are many parts of the country where the fruit was used as a souring agent that predates the more globally familiar limes or lemons.
In Maharashtra, tamarind (known as "chinch") and jaggery hold a significant position, finding their way into many dishes like chinch-gulachi amti, a dal infused with the delightful combination of tamarind and jaggery and of course the beloved imli chutney that appears in most street food dishes. In the south, tamarind plays a role in many staples like rasam and sambar to impart a unique our edge to the spicy soups. It’s also a favourite in Goa where the everyday staple Xitt Kodi (fish curry) is dominated by the fruit.
In addition to tamarind being a leading flavour, they also predict that ‘Thoughtfully Borrowed’ cuisine will be a global hit. This encompasses recipes that authentically represent regional-traditional cooking and respect the culinary traditions of different countries. This is a far cry from the ‘fusion’ movement of the last decade which aimed to repurpose foreign flavours into a more western-concept dish.
Indian cuisine has been taking huge strides in the global culinary space with Indian chefs getting Michelin nods and places like Tres Ind Dubai and Gaggan Anand featuring on the list of the World’s Top 50 restaurants. With the news of tamarind getting an international spotlight as well as the move towards truly showcasing the wealth and versatility of the Indian culinary world.