Why Tamarind Tree?
A benevolent tree stands proudly in the village of Vasai where I grew up, north of Mumbai on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Together with its relatives, for hundreds of years it has provided shade from the hot Indian summer to children playing games, while offering cool respite to their reclining elders and listened silently to the wisdom in stories passed from generation to generation. The tamarind tree holds many secrets.
This noble tree did not betray us when, as children, we would take turns to sneak sugar, salt and chilli from home to combine with its immature fruit for a tasty afternoon snack. When the tamarind fruit ripened, we would harvest the pods, shell and deseed them with help from the indigenous Warli people who work with my family. My grandparents and other elderly relatives would knead the sticky fruit with salt and seal the pulp in clay pots to mature. Like wine, tamarind gets better with age.
The stored tamarind is then soaked in water to liberate the interned flavours. The resulting paste provides tartness to curries and sauces essential to fish and other seafood dishes.
Beneath its bold taste, tamarind hides its secrets. It is reported to have health benefits with promising findings in the fight against obesity, diabetes and cancer. But its efficacy as an antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial agent is why I use it as a natural preservative in my gourmet sauces.
My cooking is inspired by a childhood under the tamarind tree in Vasai where my grandfather would share his passion for food and I would lay the foundations of a life’s work.After training in hospitality and kitchen management my career began at the luxurious Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. From there I travelled the world from London to Melbourne to become an accomplished chef trained in classical French, Italian and Indian cuisine. For 22 years from my restaurants and outlets I served the finest Indian cuisine to Melbourne’s curry aficionados and now I bring you fresh, authentic flavours of India through my Tamarind Tree Gourmet Sauces.
In the same way my grandfather influenced me to explore the secrets of the tamarind tree I want to inspire you to cook delicious Indian food at home. Using only the finest spices, preserved naturally and combined lovingly, the secrets in these sauces have journeyed the generations of my family. I have perfected the recipes and captured them so you can enjoy them with your family too.
About 500 years ago, the Portuguese held a fortress in the town of Vasai to strengthen their naval superiority over the Arabian Sea. While the Portuguese are long gone, their influence in food and Christian tradition is still evident today. The tamarind tree has a long history in the area too. Its roots run deep and its wisdom profound. Through Tamarind Tree Gourmet Sauces I share secrets that only your taste buds can tell. I invite you to try them.
Links back to Mumbai & Vasai – the Pascal Zuzu Ger Scholarship
Through my father, I learnt the importance of helping those less fortunate. I believe that through education, the under privileged can change the future so, in my father’s memory, my siblings and I established the Pascal Zuzu Ger Scholarship. The scholarship trust helps educate girls in particular to train as teachers and nurses. So far, six young women from Vasai (our Ger family’s home town in India) have received scholarship support to create a brighter future.
I hope you enjoy these sauces as much as I have enjoyed making them for you.
Let’s all get inspired to cook!