Tamarind fruit are bean-like shaped pods with a cinnamon brown to clay colored external appearance. Inside the pods, the fruit's flesh is tender, succulent, and green, with a highly acidic flavor when young. Its underdeveloped seeds are soft and white. As the fruit matures, the pod becomes brittle. The flesh begins to dehydrate to paste form and takes on the cinnamon appearance of the pod while also losing its acidic punch and becoming sweeter. It is at this stage of maturity that it is most often used for culinary purposes. The seeds, too, change in both color and texture, becoming flat, hard, and glossy brown.
Tamarind may be used as a condiment or to add tartness to dishes like curry or soup. There are many different ways to prepare tamarind, including making a paste or sauce by boiling it down with sugar and salt. Tamarind can also be dried into tamarind candies.
Tamarind has a peak season from early spring to late fall.