Deliciously tangy and one of the most highly prized natural foods in South Asia, the tamarind – the melodic name of which comes from the Persian "tamar-I-hind," meaning "date of India" – is gaining recognition and appreciation throughout the world. Said to be native to Africa, this exotic fruit grows on exceptionally tall trees of the fabaceae family, such as peas, beans, and other legumes, mostly in the warmer, dryer areas of Asia, Mexico, and India. Tamarind trees produce an abundance of long, curved, brown pods filled with small brown seeds, surrounded by a sticky pulp that dehydrates naturally to a sticky paste. The pods look a bit like huge, brown, overly mature green beans. After harvest, tamarinds are sometimes shelled in preparation for export. From there, they're often pressed into balls and layered with sugary water or syrup; sometimes they're salted. Processed tamarind products can be found in supermarkets, but remember that additives can alter the nutritional profile. It’s better to purchase tamarind when it's fresh and still in the pod. Refrigeration is the best way to preserve the freshness for up to several months.