What is Tamarind Paste?

A tamarind tree produces a bitter, black, sticky fruit used to make tamarind paste. Tamarind paste is primarily used in savory dishes in Thai cooking, unlike in other cultures where it is utilized to make desserts and even candies. Tamarind is a key ingredient in many Thai curries and seafood meals, including the traditional pad thai sauce. Tamarind is frequently used in Indian curries. Additionally, it is frequently used in Vietnamese, Latin, and Caribbean cuisine and Indian and Mexican dishes. In Worcestershire sauce, it is a vital component that gives the sauce its unique tang.

What Is Tamarind Paste?

What is Tamarind Paste?

The tamarind tree is a common hardwood fruit tree with African roots throughout Asia and Mexico. It produces enormous brown pods that are filled with tamarind fruit. To create a ready-to-use cooking paste, the dark reddish-brown fruit from the pods must first be separated from the seeds. The pulp that envelops the seeds inside the tamarind pod, found in the tamarind tree’s fruit—or pods—is used to make tamarind paste. It is inexpensive and keeps for a very long time, whether you create or purchase it already. The tamarind tree is a member of the Fabaceae family and is a leguminous plant. Technically, its fruits are legumes.

The pulp of the tamarind fruit is used to make tamarind paste. Although the flavor of this paste is mostly sour, it also has a diverse flavor profile that includes sweet and tangy, tart, and strong flavors. However, the truth is that it depends on how ripe the fruit is. The Tamarind will taste sourer the earlier you use it. You can get a sweeter tamarind pulp if you let it ripen a little longer. Tamarinds are a fantastic source of antioxidants and fiber, both of which aid in the digestion of food. Furthermore, consuming Tamarind truly aids in weight loss.

If you’re determined to stock your pantry with this useful item, you can purchase it already produced or manufacture it yourself. Additionally, keep in mind that you should keep it dry and cool when storing it. If you live somewhere with cool temperatures, a cupboard will do. Otherwise, keep it chilled for longer shelf life. To add, you might not be aware of several advantages of tamarind paste.

How to Cook with Tamarind Paste?

Whatever recipe you are cooking will require sugar or another form of sweetness due to its sour taste; Tamarind imparts foods with an exquisite yet delicate, sweet-sour flavor when mixed with sugar. It is simple to utilize tamarind paste straight from the container. Depending on your type, tamarind paste might vary greatly in thickness and spiciness. To get the proper flavor, you must add additional if the paste is runny. To obtain the ideal sweet-sour balance, taste-test your recipe. If necessary, add more paste or sweetener to create the desired flavor.

Tamarind Paste Recipes

Many Asian foods, including soups, curries, sauces, and noodle dishes, include tamarind paste. It works well as a marinade since the meat is softer by its acidic nature. It can also be added to chutneys and dips that are still raw. Additionally, tamarind paste is used in preparing pastries, candies, cocktails, and other drinks, including the widely consumed and adored agua fresca de tamarindo in Mexico.

  • Vietnamese Lemongrass Tamarind Chicken
  • Thai Stir-Fry Tamarind Shrimp
  • Thai Tamarind Chicken Stir-Fry

What Is Tamarind Paste?

What does it Taste Like?

Tamarind paste has a strong citrus flavor and an extremely acidic taste. It also has caramel and smoke undertones, creating a rich flavor profile. It resembles molasses and is thick and gooey. Tamarind paste has a fairly complex flavor profile. First, it has a strong citrus flavor and is highly sour. You might more subtly pick up on undertones of caramel and perhaps smoke. It has a thick, gooey feel that is similar to molasses.

Where to Buy Tamarind Paste?

Jars or plastic containers are used to sell tamarind paste. One jar of paste will keep for a very long period because it is robust and concentrated. Some Asian grocery stores have tamarind paste, but you might have better luck finding it in Indian grocers. Additionally, buying it online is not too difficult.

Finding dried pods at Asian markets and even certain supermarkets is simple. It’s simple to make your own if you want to. Remove the fruit by cracking them open. For 10 to 15 minutes, simmer them in a pot with about 1/4 cup of water. The fruit should be gently mashed against the pan’s bottom after the pan has been removed from the heat. Remove the dark liquid by straining it out, then press the fruit through a fine-mesh screen to get the most pulp while removing the seeds. You can now use your tamarind paste.

Although one might object to using something else instead of tamarind paste, there are instances when an ingredient is hard to come by or when the need to prepare a dish with it hits when a grocery shop is closed. There are two frequent alternatives to tamarind paste: one is a vinegar and sugar solution, and the other is freshly squeezed lime juice. Dishes like pad thai chicken benefit from the vinegar-sugar combination.

Replace the one tablespoon of tamarind paste in your recipe with one tablespoon of vinegar and one brown sugar. For every tablespoon of tamarind paste, use two tablespoons of fresh lime juice instead. Two teaspoons or less of tamarind paste is ideal when using one of the two alternatives. If the recipe you want to make calls for Tamarind as the primary ingredient, like in a recipe for Thai tamarind fish, neither alternative works well.

Storage Tip

Most tamarind paste jars and containers advise storage in a cold, dry environment, so your spice cabinet will work fine. However, you’ll see that tamarind users frequently suggest refrigerating to preserve freshness and lengthen shelf life. Before using, you might need to stir or thin the contents out with water because it tends to thicken. If it is correctly sealed, it will last for several months.

What are the Uses of Tamarind Paste in Cooking?

In the kitchen, tamarind paste has a variety of purposes. You may use it in various ways in addition to using it as a base or Thai sauce for pad Thai and this recipe for Malaysian sweet potatoes. It also has a specific place in many cuisines since it can elevate any meal to a new degree of tanginess and sweetness. See the list of tamarind paste’s numerous culinary applications below.

Meat Tenderizer

Tamarind paste can be used as a meat tenderizer and a fantastic base sauce for numerous cuisines. This is because of Tamarind’s high acidity, which easily dissolves large, tough chunks of meat like beef chuck and pig shoulder.

As it turns out, one of the essential components of Worcestershire sauce, one of the finest methods for tenderizing meat, is tamarind paste. Additionally, in this Italian marinated roast recipe, tamarind paste can be used as a marinade in place of Worcestershire sauce.

Baking and Dessert Ingredient

Tamarind paste can also be used to create desserts that will astound you. You can use the paste as a glaze by thinning it with milk and sweetening it with confectioners’ sugar. You can first test the glaze on a few of your cookies and banana bread to see whether you like it.

If it lived up to your expectations, you could try combining it with other sweets and baked goods, such as chocolate cake, gingerbread, and even vanilla ice cream. It can also be included in your regular granola bar. Combine the Tamarind with the liquid ingredients to utilize it in this method. Add honey and maple syrup for an additional sugar surge.

Primary Ingredient for any Dish

For some, Tamarind is uncharted territory. It is undeniable that this component is underappreciated, nevertheless. When naming a sour component, the first things that come to mind are vinegar and lemons. Tamarind would not be included at all. Thai food begs to differ because Tamarind is a common component in Thai cuisine found in Southeast Asia. Like pad Thai, Kaeng som or gaeng som uses tamarind paste to give it a sour and acidic flavor that vinegar and even lemons can’t match.

Mix with Spices

Tamarind is frequently used in curries and other spicy foods, which leads some people to believe it is a spice. It turns out that it also complements spices like coriander, ginger, turmeric, and garam masala. For some Indian dishes, such as the South Indian style chicken curry, which utilizes coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and most importantly, coconut milk to temper the Tamarind’s sour flavor, tamarind paste combined with these components form a unique mixture.

In the same way that Tamarind is used in Indian curry, vegetarians may also enjoy this sweet but mildly spicy Thai Panang curry. Use tamarind paste instead of lime juice for a more traditional Thai flavor.


Originally from Africa, the tamarind tree is a popular hardwood fruit tree that spreads throughout Mexico and Asia today. It is inexpensive and keeps for a very long time, whether you create or purchase it already. Constipation, liver and gallbladder issues and stomach disorders are all treated with Tamarind. Additionally, it is used to treat fever and colds. To reduce nausea brought on during pregnancy, some women consume Tamarind. Children are administered it to cure intestinal worms.