Dipteryx odorata is a species of flowering tree in the pea family Fabaceae.
Its seeds are known as Tonka beans.
They are black and wrinkled and have a smooth brown center.
The Amazonian Indians consider it a lucky charm
Tonka Beans had been used as a vanilla substitute, as a perfume, and in tobacco before being banned in some countries.
They are used in some French cuisine (particularly, in desserts and stews) and in perfumes.
The tonka seed contains coumarin, a chemical isolate from this plant, which also gave the name to it.
Its use in food industry is regulated, restricted in the United States.
The regulations are criticized as unreasonable due to the unlikelihood of consuming enough coumarin to cause ill effects and due to the presence of coumarin in unregulated foods.
Nonetheless, it proliferates on elite American menus.
The taste of the tonka bean is linked strongly to its scents, as the tonka bean has many at once.
Aromas of vanilla, cherry, almond, cinnamon with spicy undertones gives the tonka bean its complexity.
Tonka bean is often grated or added in shavings at the last moment to a dish or dessert to benefit the full flavors.
The complex and intense taste of the tonka bean goes particularly well with chocolate.
It can also be combined with certain shellfish such as scallops. Whatever the recipe, it is important to dose the tonka bean sparingly.
In addition to a taste too pronounced, a dose too important can, as for nutmeg, be toxic.
It is advisable to keep the tonka bean, whether whole or powdered, in an airtight container protected from heat and light.