What’s the Deal with Tamarind Paste?

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Add tamarind paste to your food for an unforgettable taste


People eat different types of foods around the world and have a variety of different flavours and cuisines. Some of them like mild, mellow flavours, some may like sweet but unique flavours.

Others may want to have some more spicy and robust kind of food. It all depends on your taste buds and your preferences because there are no fixed rules while cooking.

You can adjust and select ingredients as per your desire. There are plenty of ingredients worldwide, and tamarind is a bright, delicious ingredient loved globally.

Tamarind derives from Arabic, but it has many names in different countries like imli, tamarindo, tamon, sampalock and asam.

The tamarind fruit has a unique flavour, and the tamarind tree is much prized in many places for its beauty and fruit. Leaves, bark, beans and wood of the tree have a wide range of uses.

The fruit is an incredibly popular addition to the food that needs a fruity, sour, bright taste. This is easily one of the most versatile ingredients around.

Below, you will find out what is tamarind paste and how you can add it to your food.

What is Tamarind Paste?

Tamarind sauce

Tamarind is a leguminous tree bearing edible fruit. It produces brown pod-like fruit that contains a sweet, tangy pulp.

Tamarind paste is made from the sour, tangy pulp of the tamarind pods. The tamarind fruit has a date-like texture, and crushing the fruit makes the paste.

It has a naturally thick, fibrous consistency. Once you remove the fruit from the pod, the sticky pulp is pulled from the seeds.

You can put this in hot water for some time and then drained it through a sieve to remove the fibrous threads and squeeze to extract the dark smooth paste.

Tamarind pulp is also used in traditional medicine.

How to Cook with it

Tamarind has a unique taste. It has a distinct taste of sweet and sour that seasons, balances, and complements many dishes’ flavours.

The acidity of tamarind is a perfect meat tenderizer. Many people put tamarind paste on their meat cuts to make them juicer and tender.

Blend a small amount on tamarind pulp in coconut chutney, beet chutney or cilantro chutney, and you can save it for a long time. Adding tamarind paste to these chutneys helps give them an earthy, fruity, and sour taste and makes them last longer.

Tamarind is also a staple ingredient of the base sauce of pad Thai.

Tamarind is the must-have ingredient for Indian spicy dishes and curries. Usually, coconut milk is used to take the edge off of its tangy taste.

You can also use tamarind to flavour dal, the traditional Indian and Pakistani food. You can also mix tamarind with barbeque sauce for a more complex flavour.

Different cuisines use tamarind differently. Many cuisines use tamarind paste to make various types of dips, sauces, tangy soups, sweet chutneys, juices, carbonated drinks, desserts, and some candies.

What does it taste like?

Tamarind has a delightful, sour and tangy flavour, but the taste also depends on how ripe the fruit is. However, the distinct flavour note in tamarind is the sour kick.

Tamarind is high in tartaric acid, which adds a tart, sweet and sour taste to dishes. You can adjust its quantity as per your desire.

Tamarind paste

Where to buy Tamarind Paste

You can buy tamarind from any grocery store near you. It’s readily available in any form, but mostly you can find tamarind paste or pulp in jars in grocery stores.

You can find blocks of pressed tamarind in big grocery stores. Furthermore, tamarind paste substitute is also easy to find.

Substitutes for Tamarind paste

You can substitute tamarind with many ingredients like rice vinegar, pomegranate molasses, lime or lemon juice with sugar, and marmalade or unripe mango pulp. These ingredients will not give you the exact tamarind taste but can give your dish some added sourness.

You can even use Worcestershire sauce as a substitute for tamarind paste, as it gives you similar flavours. However, it is worth noting that this tamarind paste alternative won’t give you the same fruity taste.

tamarind (2)

5 Health Benefits

These are just a few of the health benefits of consuming tamarind.


Tamarind fruit contains specific health benefiting essential chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres. Tamarind pulp includes a variety of nutrients that can boost your help. It also can reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Helps digestive system​

Tamarind is suitable for managing constipation in adults and children because of a high amount of malic, tartaric and potassium acid. Tamarind juice is a mild laxative, so it helps to improve your stomach issues.

Having a healthy gut can help boost your body’s overall health.

Weight control

Tamarind is not only a tasty fruit, but it’s also a very healthy and nutritional fruit. Tamarind has a high level of antioxidants, so it can help you to lose weight.

Drinking tamarind juice can help you to lose your extra kilos. Add four to five glasses of water to your tamarind pulp, and your detox water is ready for weight loss.

Boost heart health

Tamarind fruit may boost your heart help in several ways. It contains polyphenols that can help regulate cholesterol.

The antioxidants in this fruit can help reduce oxidative damage to good cholesterol, which is very important for heart health. Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide, making this a vital health benefit.

Medicinal use

Tamarind is widely used in traditional medicines. It works excellently for different diseases like tumours, eye disease, blood disorders and many others. Tamarind pulp also works as an astringent on the skin and can be incredibly soothing.

Its leaves are used as a treatment for ringworm and swelling on the skin.

The acetic acid in tamarind can improve insulin sensitivity, and the antioxidants from seeds may lowering blood sugar. Also, it has an anti-cancer effect.

What can I use in place of tamarind paste?

Tamarind has a unique sweet and sour flavour. If you don’t want to use tamarind or you don’t have it, then you may use vinegar, lime or lemon with a little bit of brown sugar.

Although it is worth noting that these substitutes never give you the same complexity of taste.

Where would I find tamarind paste?

Tamarind is readily available in every country almost, and you can find it easily in grocery stores. You can find it in its raw form, and also, its pulp and sauce are available easily in markets.

Suppose you want to make your very own homemade tamarind paste. In that case, you can buy raw tamarind fruit and make a paste very quickly.

If you’re wondering how to make tamarind paste, all you need to do is steep the fruit in some hot water, and squeeze away the pulp from the seeds.

What is tamarind paste good for?

The tamarind tree is very useful worldwide; its fruit, leaves and seeds are used as either remedy or spice. Tamarind fruit paste is very high in sugar. It is a good source of vitamin c and iron, and it also increases iron absorption.

It also contains many nutrients like magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper and calcium.

Many other compounds in the paste are pectin, fats, amino acids, zinc, selenium, fibre and tartaric acid. Tartaric acid can soften stool and act as a laxative.

Apart from being incredibly healthy, tamarind paste is very delicious and has an unforgettable taste.

Can you eat tamarind raw?

You can eat the tamarind raw or mix its pulp with any syrup or juice to infuse its tanginess. However, there are no drawbacks to consuming raw tamarind, apart from perhaps a sore throat if you overeat.

Tamarind has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, so consuming it raw can help you avail these benefits. Raw tamarind juice every day can help you lose your extra kilos of weight, as its flavonoids and polyphenols suppress your hunger and make you lose weight.

Is tamarind sauce the same as tamarind paste?

Typically tamarind paste and sauce are the same product. They come in jars and are a thick, smooth paste-like which you can spoon out quickly.

You can use it as per your recipe; just remember, don’t put too much in your dish because it has a robust flavour.

Can I use tamarind powder instead of paste?

Yes, you can use tamarind powder instead of tamarind paste. Tamarind powder has the intense, fruity taste characteristic of tamarind, and you can use it in almost every dish.

You can also add this powder to your marinades, sauces and chutneys. Using tamarind powder can also be more accessible than using paste as it is easier to handle.


These are just a few of the uses, benefits, alternates and value of the tamarind tree.

The tangy, sweet flavour of tamarind is incredibly popular, and it is used in cuisines around the world. Its pulp is also used in traditional medicine.

The tamarind tree itself has various uses, from the pulp to the leaves and barks; each has critical medicinal applications.

The tamarind tree is best known for its mouthwatering fruit, which is marketed worldwide. Tamarind tree grows well in deep sandy soil, and it’s a sun-loving plant of warm, open areas.

This is a delicious, tangy fruit that will tantalize your taste buds.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!