Sweet tamarind is a unique tasting fruit that also doubles up either as a spice or as a tangy-sugary condiment in various Indian dishes, especially on those drool-worthy chaat items, in the form of chutney. Native to South Africa, sweet tamarind grows on the tree that goes with the botanical name Tamarindus indica L. from the Fabaceae family. Also known as Tamarindo in various parts of the world, this unique tasting fruit is known as Meethi Imli in Hindi, Teeya Chintapandu in Telugu, Innipu Puli in Tamil, Puli in Malayalam and Mishti Tetul in Bengali.
The evergreen tropical tree reaches up to 24 metres in height and 7 metres in width sporting very tiny flowers in pale yellow colour. Sweet tamarind trees and regular tamarind trees look very similar and this unique fruit is shaped like a pod, with a hard, brown shell. Each fruit grows up to 4 to 6 inches in length containing 6 to 12 seeds and the taste of pulp can vary anywhere from slightly acidic to sweet depending on the season.