Champolas tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind & soursop juices)

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana(tamarind and soursop juices)

Food contains natural chemicals that are essential to our health – vitamins and minerals are obvious examples. But did you know that in some foods lurk certain substances which may be harmful? Some of these items – like rhubarb – are not commonplace in our cuisine, but looking through the lists of these foods several Dominican staples appear.

It’s important to point out that few of these present any realistic danger when consumed in a normal manner. This is more a curiosity than an actual health warning.

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)

The first, and perhaps, best known, is the red kidney bean. The toxins it contains are called lectins, which can give you gas, mild stomach pain and, in rare cases, vomiting. Dried kidney beans need to be soaked overnight (for at least twelve hours), water changed and then boiled. Once they come to the boil keep the heat on high for the first ten minutes so that they boil vigorously. Then turn down the heat and simmer till soft. Beans from a can have gone through this process and are OK to eat as is.

Fava beans, also used in Dominican cooking, can lead to a enzyme deficiency disease called “favism” in people with a genetic predisposition to this condition. Favism is most commonly found in the Mediterranean region, especially in people from Sardinia.

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)

Cassava (yuca), another Dominican favourite, contains some cyanide, a well known deadly poison, as do almonds and kernels of fruits such as apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, soursop, apples, pears and tamarind seeds. If you are a fan of spy stories and murder mysteries you will know that cyanide is said to smell like almonds – now you know why. Apparently though, you have to eat vast amounts of any of these things to get any effect, so if you were harbouring any murderous intentions, don’t bother to try inflicting “death by casabe”.

Beware of green potatoes! The toxin in question here is called a “glycoalkaloid”, a name worthy of a scaly-backed alien. It is therefore important to keep your potatoes in a dark, cool and dry place as light exposure heightens the glycoalkaloid levels. Avoid using green potatoes or the green parts of a potato, and don’t eat green crisps (potato chips)!Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)
Seafood too has its risks. Those who like to live dangerously takes their lives in their hands and sample the Japanese “fugu” (blowfish or puffer fish) whose liver contains a fatal poison. Apparently the risk factor is part of the attraction. It takes all sorts.

In Dominican waters we find fish that could potentially carry ciguatera, a substance that is very toxic for humans and is accumulated by the fish when they consume certain algae. It is most commonly found in fish that feed in reef areas, as opposed to deep sea fish. It is said that people should avoid eating fish during the hottest months of the year. Other precautions include cleaning the fish as soon as it is caught or purchased, never eating the heads, guts or eggs of any reef fish such as shark or eel, and avoiding fish in areas where ciguatoxic algae are known to exist. Cooking, drying, salting or freezing the fish will not destroy the toxins.

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)

Nutmeg is well known to have hallucinogenic properties, but again, the amount necessary to produce any sort of mind-altering result is physically impossible to consume, making it impractical as a popular recreational drug. Let’s face it: you’re never likely to be accosted by a stranger on a city street hissing “hey you! Wanna buy some ‘meg?”

You may like to know that while researching this article I came across a couple of warnings about dangers to domestic animals from everyday foods such as chocolate. It is dangerous to feed your dog chocolate: a relatively small amount can have a poisonous effect. Also, don’t make a habit of feeding your dog food containing onions as this apparently can cause anemia.

Aunt Ilana

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6 porciones

Champolas de tamarindo y guanabana (tamarind and soursop juices)

Delicious with a bit of a sour touch, tamarind juice is a refreshing drink that is very popular in the Dominican Republic. In contrast, soursop juice, which is also very popular, has a very mild, delicate taste.


    Soursop juice
  • 1 large soursop, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cup of sugar (you may not use it all)
  • Ice
  • Tamarind juice
  • 3 cups of tamarind pulp (seeded, if possible)
  • 1 cup of sugar (you may not use it all)
  • Ice


    Soursop juice
  1. Blend the soursop in 1 1/2 qrt of water. Sieve and get rid of solids.
  2. Add sugar to taste, add ice and serve.
  3. Tamarind juice
  4. Soak the tamarind in 1 1/2 qrt of water overnight.
  5. Using a fork try to mash the tamarind to extract the pulp.
  6. Sieve and get rid of solids.
  7. Add sugar to taste, add ice and serve.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Sandra May 18, 2012, 12:47 PM

    Love This Recipes Too Bad I Can Only Get The Frozen Pulp Where I Am!

  • Jehancancook May 18, 2012, 5:18 PM

    I'm a huge fan of both tamarind and soursop. We usually blend the soursop with milk and nutmeg. These sound so refreshing!