The black velvet tamarind is from a native African tree known as “Dialium Guineense”, an orange dry powdery pulp fruit with a thin velvet black shells unlike the common brown shell tamarind; it is sweeter in taste while the brown tamarind is sticky and its shell lighter than the black velvet tamarind fruits pod. The dry edible orange pulpy fruits center encloses one or two tiny, hard, flat and shiny brown seeds just like watermelon seeds which are encased in a papery thin layer of starch that is chewy. It’s roots, leafs, barks and the powdery pulpy seeds has been used traditionally in culinary recipes and also to treat diseases as medicinal applications.
The black velvet tamarind orange sweet and sour pulp is eaten raw when dry by animals and man; in Nigeria the wild fruits serve as a dietary and nutritional supplement especially when fruits are out of season and scarce. The fruit is a yummy delight for the kids in Nigeria and also most adults enjoy it in a all across rural communities in Nigeria, kids are known to enjoy its fruits as sweet snacks and also love chewing and relishing the tender leaf of the black velvet tamarind as a salad vegetable on their way to and from the streams to fetch water, to pick firewood or the farms, while the school going city kids cherish most the dry orange powdery pulp as a satisfying meal during lunch breaks popularly called licki-licki by kids and adults all over Nigeria.
It is known as “Tsamiyar Kurm or Biri” in Hausa, called “Awin” in Yoruba and named as “Icheku” in Igbo languages in Nigeria. The black velvet tamarind is similar in taste and flavor to the commonly known tamarind hence the reason to why both fruits have similar names referring to both as just “tamarind” while the brown tamarind simply called “tsamiya” in Hausa is sticky “sour” mostly used for cooking while the black velvet tamarind known as “tsamiyar biri or kurm” in Hausa is powdery “sweet” best serve as a fruit snack but both can be successfully substituted for the other, depending on the recipe and method of cooking. The black velvet tamarind fruit is much more popular due to its edible dry orange pulp fruits which is sweeter with a stronger flavor and mildly sour than the regular brown tamarind.
The black velvet tamarind fruits are cheap and handy dry fruits snacks that are widely and popularly sold in heaps at the local and fruits markets also hawked around on trays, in wheelbarrows, on display in various stall and shop counters all over the Nigerian cities, towns, and villages. The dry powdery pulp of the fruit is strong tasting with a distinctly unique flavor, eaten freshly raw, soaked in water or cooked in various recipes of cultural cuisines; it has been used in medicinal remedies, non-alcoholic and mild-alcoholic beverages, in jams and juices, as a flavor in snacks, sauces, and domestic cooking. The following are some of the tasty and tangy recipes of the black velvet orange pulps which for decades has been finding its place on the plates and palates of most Nigerians:-
Black Velvet Tamarind Jam
A sweet and sour delights which if taken with other protein food sources will greatly increase protein intake, thus helping to reduce protein malnutrition in Nigerians. The black velvet jam is nutritionally good for kids and adults to meet the daily nutrients needs. The yummy sweet jam of the black velvet tamarind has a high concentration of vital minerals, vitamin C, and energy that is necessary and needed for good body development.
The black velvet tamarind fruits
Local spices or flavor of choice
Air-tight Bottles and jars
The required fruits to be used must be checked and freed of bruised, spoilt and weevil eaten fruits; then separated from the good ones. Crack and shell the fruits, rinse in running water then air dry for few minutes to remove the remaining bad fruits.
Soak the de-hulled orange pulpy fruits to dissolve in water for an hour in clean water.
After the pulp are all dissolved then separate the brown flat seeds from the orange colored fruits by passing it through a sieve; adding more water on it until all pulps are free from the seeds.
Pour into a deep pot or kettle the sieved pulpy juice.
Gradually adding in the sugar or sweeteners of choice, pour in the lemon juice to thicken and give a gel-like consistency and to also give color and more flavor to the velvet tamarind fruit jam.
As soon as it starts to sets, remove from the heat and cool.
Funnel into bottles or jar and seal tightly to preserve.
Store in the refrigerator and serve as for jam.
Black Velvet Tamarind Spicy, Sweet And Sour Dip
Savor an amazing flavor and taste of the black velvet tamarind in a spicy, sweet and sour dip prepared with the dates, the orange pulp of the black velvety tamarind, spiced-up with the native spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper to enhance flavor, then mix with the homemade unrefined sugar of the sugarcane called “mazankwaila” in Hausa. Served with fried finger foods for extra sweetness.
Date fruits known as dabino in Hausa
Black Velvet Tamarind
Ginger, cloves and chili pepper
Mazankwaila in Hausa is the sugarcane homemade unrefined sugar
De-seed the dates, black velvet tamarind, rinse in clean water and place into a deep heavy base pot, add water and the sugarcane unrefined sugar. Cook until until tender the tamarind.
Remove from heat and allow to cool, transfer into a blender and coarsely blend or pound roughly with the tabletop mortar and pestle. Scoop into a mixing bowl then add powdered ginger, cloves, chili pepper, and a little salt to balance the taste, mix all to blend.
Transfer into the pot, place on low heat to simmer while turning constantly until thicken and set; then remove from heat and cool.
Scoop into jars, seal with air-tight covers, label with ingredients, recipe type and dates.
Serve with snacks and side dishes.
Powdered Kunun Zaki
A nourishing powdered kunun zaki prepared by a mix of the black velvet tamarind pulp and spices, is sweeter in taste, appealing in appearance, aroma, flavor and the most preferred by Nigerians. The black velvet tamarind is an important ingredient in the making of the kunun zaki flour mix because it is easily available and affordable serving as a natural sweetener and also aids in its fermentation for the unique sweet and sour taste of the thin beverage drink; an alternative ingredient to the sweet potatoes that is normally used which will definitely give an exotic flavor. The bottled and packaged kunun zaki is a thin beverage drinks that is highly in demand for a refreshing and soothing effects on the human body due to the hot sunny weather of the northern Nigeria.
A great business idea that will bring in lots of income for the home business owners; hygienically and beautifully packaged in sachets or cute buckets, fast in preparing the flour into quick instant kunun zaki, thereby cutting down the number of days involved in achieving its fermentation.
The dried millet grains or Gero in Hausa
The black velvet tamarind
Ginger is the citta in Hausa
Cloves is Kanunfari in Hausa
Chili pepper or the Barkono in Hausa
Black pepper or peppercorn is the Masoro in Hausa
Sugar or sweeteners of choice
The dried millet cereals must first be freed of impurities of husks, stones and debris. Wash and spread out to dry under the sun. Mill into very smooth free flowing flour and sieve with a fine mesh into a separate bowl.
Crack open the outer covering of the hard black velvet shell of the tamarind, remove the orange powdery pulp. Then de-seed the pulp by gently pushing it all around in a mortar with the aid of the pestle until the brown hard seeds are freed from the pulp.
Separate the seeds from the pulp by first sieving it with a perforated dry bowl, and hand-pick the seeds.
The collect the orange powdery pulp, pound, grind or mill into a very fine free flowing powder; then sieve separately into a different bowl.
Measure into a dry mixing bowl the quantity require for the kunun zaki flour, add in the powdered orange pulpy powder of the black velvet tamarind and blend in with a dry spatula.
Meanwhile combine all mix spices ground, or mill into powder form and sieve. Add to the the millet and tamarind flour. Mix all together to blend and sieve again.
Scoop into dry containers and properly label with recipe name, ingredients and dates.
How To Use The Powdered Kunun Zaki
Scoop some of the kunu zaki mix into a bowl and dissolve with some water.
Bring water to boil, pour on the dissolved flour and mix in to the consistency of choice.
Sweeten more with sweeteners of choice or take as it is for a healthy and refreshing beverage.
Serve chilled with snacks or meals of choice.
Black Velvet Tamarind Millet Gruel
Kunun tsamiyar biri is the cheapest and popular breakfast meal all over northern Nigeria, sold and serve as street meal with snacks of bean cakes known as Kosai and alele in Hausa; the addition of the black velvet tamarind will bring into the generally relished gruel a healthy twist and taste. A cooked and thick pudding of cereal grains, the sourness of the lemon juice or the black velvet tamarind makes for a yummy sweet or sour gruel; mix with sweeteners of choice, with added milk or yogurt just for added nutrients but it is optional.
Grain cereals of millets, or guinea corns
Black velvet tamarind extract
Mix spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper
Sugar or honey
Lemon juice or homemade yogurt “nono” for more tangy taste
Sugar or sweeteners of choice
The dried millet grains must be freed of stones, dirts and particles; then rinse repeated in clean water; all this to avoid sand in meals which is unhealthy and can ruin a good meal.
Spread out to dry under the hot sun, and transfer into a clean and dry bowl.
Add all mix spices to the dried cereal grains and dry mill into a very fine free flowing flour.
Sieve into containers then cover to keep out the dust and dirts.
Scoop and dissolve some into a small bowl, mix into a very smooth wet paste of pouring consistency.
Meanwhile, soak the black velvet tamarind in hot water until dissolved and separated from the brown seeds, sieve and use as tamarind extract.
Bring water to boil, and immediately pour into the dissolve millet flour, mix quickly until thicken and sets into a custard-like gruel or pudding.
Gradually add into the gruel the black velvet tamarind extract, stirring to mix until the desired taste and consistency.
The addition of lemon juice or yogurt add more creaminess and nutrients to the millet gruel.
Sweeten with sweeteners of choice and serve with any favorite side dishes.
Fried Fish In Black Velvet Tamarind Sauce
A delicious sauce of the tamarind extract prepared with spices of choice for a spicy and tangy taste, seasoned to taste and drizzled all over fried fish, grilled or roasted.
Fresh Tilapia fish or cat fish
Mix spices of garlic powder, ginger, cloves, chili and black pepper
Cooking oil for frying
Seasoning cubes and salt to taste
Mix puree of tomatoes, scotch bonnets, bell peppers and onions
The black velvet tamarind extracts or powdery pulp
Onion rings and chopped spring onions
Fresh Fish is the main ingredients, cut and dress to remove all offal’s, make alternate cuts all over the fresh fish to absorb marinates easily and fast then arrange on place or baking tray rack.
The marinate of choice is prepared is made out of local spices of ginger, garlic onions, cloves, alligator and chili pepper mix together. Dip and rob all over the fresh fish into marinade to absorb the mix, remove and arrange on a grill to put into the oven, or to roast on an open grill but for choice simply deep fry in cooking oil until crispy golden brown on the outside, and flaky soft inside. Remove and drain on paper napkins to absorb excess oil.
Place a sauce pan on low heat, add into it some vegetable oil to heat up.
Sizzle and sauté onion slices until soft, add pureed tomatoes, scotch bonnets and bell peppers.
Season with spices, seasoning cubes and salt to taste; stir-fry until a thick sauce.
Meanwhile, soak the black velvet tamarind in hot water until dissolved and separated from the brown seeds, sieve and use as tamarind extract or soak in hot water the powdered tamarind pulp.
Add the black tamarind extracts to the simmering sauce according to sweet or sour taste of choice; stir in to blend well. Cook until a very thick sauce.
Serve with fried fish as a dip or drizzle on the fried, with onion rings and vegetables of choice, rice dishes, potatoes, beans or yam tubers.
Velvet Tamarind Paste and Juice
The orange powdery pulp with its sweet and sour taste are used in various recipes such as fruits drinks, beverages, syrup, jam, jellies, smoothies, milk recipes, candies and mild alcoholic drinks, in soups and sauces, baked recipes, a great marinade for fish dishes. A must for sweet deliciousness in fruit juices by adding to it the sweet lingering flavor and taste of black velvet tamarind.
The orange tamarind pulps
Ginger, Cloves and chili pepper
Sweetener of choice, Honey or the unrefined cane sugar known as mazankwaila in Hausa
Fruits juice of choice and lemon juice for added sharpness.
Crack and shell the black velvet tamarind, then soak for several hours in hot water.
To separate the soaked pulp from the seeds, use a gloved hand to rub together and squeeze the soaked pulp between the hands until the seeds are freed from the orange pulp. Rinse the seeds to get most of the pulp off it, then sieve or strain with a smooth mesh.
Pour into a pot, add in all the spices and bring to boil on low heat, until a thick syrupy consistency.
Remove from heat and allow to cool, strain again to remove the spices.
Transfer into a covered jar and store in the refrigerator for use in all recipes requiring concentrated tamarind pulp.
Pour into a jug some concentrated tamarind pulp.
Add in any fruits juice of choice, sweetened and add the iced cubes.
Adjust thickness and sweetness to choice.
Serve in glasses and garnish with lemon slices for a healthy and refreshing drinks.
Black Velvet Tamarind Sugar Coated Candy
The sweets are made into varieties depending on individual recipes, while the pulp can simply be sugar-coated other recipe types go further to mix the pulp with spices and sugar then mill into powder and mold into fancy candies. The sugar coated pulps are packed in sachet and jars, then sold as sweets in big shopping malls, school canteens and are found on many a retailers counters.
A healthy and sweet candies to treat cold and cough, a hit with kids, an easy and cheap way to cure kids of throat infections and catarrh.
The orange powdery pulp
Spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper
Crack open and peel open the velvet hard shells.
Separate the orange pulp from the shells and place in a separate dish.
Meanwhile, mix the spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper and ground into powder, sieve and store.
Scoop some and add some granulated sugar, blend in to mix in thoroughly.
Wet the pulp with water, and sprinkle the spicy sugar all over.
Toss to coat all orange pulp, and arrange on a tray separately then air-dry.
Transfer into jars and cover tight with its cover.
Serve as a chewy spicy snacks.
Fancy Mold Candies:- Separate the orange pulp from the shells and place in a separate dish. Combine the powdery orange tamarind pulps with the mix spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper and ground into powder.
Sieve into a mixing bowl, sweeten with honey or the unrefined cane sugar add water and mix into a thick paste, that is pliable to mold, roll and cut into fancy shapes.
Arrange on a tray separately then, toast lightly in the oven, dehydrator or sun dry until harden into a crumbly melt on the tongue candies. Remove and cool, then transfer into jars and serve as candies.
Health Benefits Of The Black Velvet Tamarind
The black velvet tamarind is highly loaded with tartaric acid which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals, high in essential minerals of iron, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, potassium, and magnesium. The fruit is rich in vital vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, Vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin and vitamin C which all play important role in the body such as natural antioxidant and enzyme metabolism. The black velvet tamarind in daily diet will help in improving the immune reaction for stronger body defense against bacteria threats and deadly infections providing a life long benefits to human health due to its powerful protection against the emerging viruses, bacteria, fungi and various health damaging pathogens. The black velvet tamarind is loaded with nutrients that helps in promoting health and managing health conditions in a lot of Nigerians; the compounds found in black velvet tamarind are used as healing agents in cosmetics products, herbal remedies and topical massage creams that are effective for bruises, scars, sprains, arthritis, backs and body pains.
The black velvet tamarind has been used since the days of old to remedy and treat the following diseases:-
The tree plants black velvet tamarind has an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory health benefits; boiling of the black velvet tamarind leaf is an effective remedy for jaundice and diabetes which helps to lower blood sugar and increases insulin sensitivity. The strong antimicrobial in the orange pulps aids in fighting against dangerous microorganisms.
The drinking of the boiled African black velvet tamarind leaf extract prevent the formation of malaria parasites which causes malaria fever and the drinking of the pulpy juice or the squeezed leaf extracts helps to lower the body temperature in malaria fever individuals. It also helps treats ulcer by increasing the secretion of gastric mucus.
The diuretic in the black velvet tamarind helps to prevent kidney stones by binding toxin and increasing urine excretion from the kidney; the high loads of diuretic in the leafs, promotes the production of urine and its potassium loads helps in controlling the heartbeat by making it an easy task to pump blood by the heart, reducing the risk of hypertension as a result.
The combination of its vitamin C and antioxidant boost the body’s immune system; the orange pulp of the velvet tamarind with the sweet and sour taste is highly loaded with Vitamin C which aids in fighting against microbial infections while the stem bark helps to reduce inflammation in bronchitis health issues, thus a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties; acute bronchitis can also be treated with the black velvet fruits.
The stem bark boiled and extracted mixture treat mouths problems; while chewing on its stems as a toothbrush aids in removing teeth plaques, protect and cure the teeth from caries and cavities, thereby improving greatly on oral hygiene by protecting against bacteria causing toothache diseases and decay.
A great remedy for stomach cramps and a natural analgesic in relieving menstrual pains; diarrhea problems can also be treated with the boiling of a mixture of the papaya leaf, salt, water and the stem bark extracts is amazingly curative for diarrhea by helping to control excessive body fluid discharge that is caused by diarrhea.
The extracts of the leaf also helps in the treatment of pile and hemorrhoid; its ethanol load reduces inflammation and shrinks the inflamed blood vessels in the anus.
The leaf contain antioxidant which assist in protecting the human body from free radicals which can cause oxidative damage.
The sour taste of the velvet tamarind signifies the presence of tartaric acid which is a powerful antioxidant in preventing aging and various diseases.
The licking, chewing and drinking in juice recipes of the orange pulpy fruits of the velvet tamarind is highly recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers; aids in increasing breast milk in nursing mothers and prevent infections. Its vitamin A is beneficial during pregnancy which helps to strengthen the fetus and prevent its abortion.
Where in the south-east Nigeria women are known to chew on its fruits to increase breast milk, to put on check and fight various genital infections; a super-food that is highly recommended for women all over Nigeria.
The high ascorbic acid of the fruit pulp helps treat scurvy while the squeezed tender leaf extracts can be applied directly on wounds protects against moisture, kills germs and bacteria to prevent infection of the wounds and also aids in boosting healthy skin re-growth.
The dietary fiber of its fruits reduces the bad cholesterol in the blood; increase stool bulk and ease bowel movement thus, preventing constipation and protecting the digestive organs.
The black velvet tamarind compound found in its decoction can help to protect and increase moistures to the eye cornea, due to the fact that it is similar to “mucin” in the eyes.
The fruits pulp improves appetite and it is often used for various healthy remedies such as dressing wounds, gargle for sore throats and in some cases aids in the restoration of sensation in paralysis; its iron loads assists in preventing anemia by boosting the red blood productions.
The Black Velvet Tamarind Adverse Effects
The healthy benefits of it is far greater than all its side effects if properly and wisely used sparingly. Patients with bleeding problems and those going in for medical surgery are advised to avoid eating or the use of the black velvet tamarind in any form so as not to aggravates the existing health problems because it might interfere with the blood sugar control during and after surgery.
The intake of black velvet tamarind by diabetic patients must be done with great caution, even though it is good in reducing the blood sugar levels in order not to prevent the blood sugar level going down too low rather than regulating it.
Allergic reactions might occur in some people when exposed to the black velvet tamarind prickly shells which can be itches or rashes.
In pregnancy women are advised to take the fruit with caution and sparingly in order to avoid its adverse effects on their fetus.
The acidity of the fruit can affects tooth enamel; individuals or people with sensitivity to it are advised to avoid taking it especially by licking or chewing. Gastric ulcer individuals and those that are susceptible to acidic foods should take it minimally in order not to worsen their health conditions.
Always eat the black velvet tamarind in moderation, if possible consult the doctor before use in food recipes, herbal remedies or as topical applications.
Sustainability Of The Black Velvet Tamarind
The black velvet tamarind known as “Dialium Guineense” is widely consumed and has a great potentials in the socio-economic development of Nigeria. An evergreen tree the black velvet tamarind with seasonal fruits and growing in most savannah regions; the fruits is not only an important agricultural product in the south-eastern, and north-eastern but all across the regions in Nigeria.
The velvet tamarind is a tropical plant tree that adapted well to hot and wet climates, growing easily in all tropical conditions most especially in places where rainfall are heavy. An amazingly sustainable wild tree that can grow in poor soils due to its adaptability to some bacteria strains that fix the atmospheric nitrogen and assist in increasing the production of nodules, hence helping other plant species to benefit from the additional nitrogen that is left out by the black velvet tamarind trees; the trees also tolerate very well to the different soil conditions irrespective of the plant needing soils with excellent drainage, while striving and thriving in soils with poor fertility, beautifully blossoming in partial shade.
The black velvet tamarind is a great source of food with essential minerals due to its nutritional values, it is necessary to enhance its post harvest processing, packaging and preservation for a long storage life; it is vital to make available, affordable and also adoptable the processing of the black velvet tamarind fruits which can greatly aid in converting the surplus fruits into products with a long shelve life and also prevent pest infestations; the processing into jams, jellies, juices and pulverization of the pulp can help limit post-harvest losses. The black velvet tamarind products will help to reduce vitamin C deficiency in most Nigerians because it is a naturally cheap, easy and economically reliable alternative to other expensive and chemical-based imported products. The processing of its fruits will improve on its proper utilization, subsequently adding more value to the tree, hence encouraging its cultivation, providing jobs for many in need of income to supplement and sustain the day to day living and above all a way towards its sustainability.
The black velvet tamarind is now threatened by habitat reduction and destruction caused by human activities, consequently climate change that is aggressively increasing the intensity of heat waves, droughts, floods, going ahead to reducing agricultural production, food security and increasing health risks. Thus, knocking open the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 13 “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”
Mother nature is awesome endlessly giving to humanity amazing gifts for feeding and healing, natural without the adverse effects to the human system of artificial additives in chemical based drugs, genetically modified organisms, (GMO) foods and the irresponsible human activities that are responsible for emerging viruses and deadly diseases in todays world.
The health of local plants and animals in the community greatly influences human health; Healthy organic meals incorporated in daily diets guarantees adequate and required nutrient intake for survival and sustenance on a daily basis which in return necessitates the maintenance of high biodiversity levels.
Healthy nutrition and biodiversity are interconnected because biodiversity is vital in human nutrition due to its influences on the world food production; the accessibility to nutritious food sufficiency is the foundation to human health and human health can only be achieved if the devastating human activities on the environment responsible for climatic changes are put under check and control.
A healthy biodiversity and ecosystems guarantees a healthy planet and a sustainable healthy life for humanity; thus taking care of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
Mother earth has a deadline and the best time to use the lifeline is NOW; live sustainably…
Protect biodiversity in all human activities to preserve mother earth and mother of life will take care of humanity!