Tamarind – How to Cook with Tamarind

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Tamarind – a user’s guide…

My apologies if that sounds condescending to anyone accustomed to working with tamarind – as it is truly a pretty easy ingredient to get your head around – but I was once ignorant to the joys of this tart Asian fruit and so I figure that you too may need a head’s up on its pleasures.

Tamarind pods fall from the tamarind tree. Each pod contains seeds and pulp around the seeds. When the fruit is ripened and brown, you can eat the sweet tart pulp right out of the pod – or it can be used for cooking.

For cooking purposes, you would typically buy a pressed quantity of shelled tamarind fruit, with or without the seeds. To use for cooking you need to make some tamarind water – and to do this you simply add about 1 part tamarind pulp to 2-3 parts water to a bowl and let it sit, stirring it about a little bit, for about 10 minutes (or even getting your hands in there to smoosh the pulp into the water).

After 10 minutes, the water should be thick and brown. Strain off the pulp and seeds and what you will be left with is a very tart but also fruity tasty liquid ‘tamarind juice’ that can be added to a wide array of dishes – basically anything that needs a little sour boost.

Tamrind is famously used as a primary ingredient in Worchestershire sauce.

Uses for Tamarind

  • When cooking and tasting something, I’ll often use a little tamarind water as an alternative to lemon/lime juice or vinegar, to give a slightly different acidic kick. I like it in BBQ sauces, in Mexican adobos and moles and in many Caribbean recipes, as well as in many Thai dishes. Nest time you're cooking with a recipe that calls for a tart citrus fruit, consider trying out a little tamarind water instead!
  • A little thick tamarind water sweetened with a little sugar water (to taste) makes a simple but excellent finishing glaze for grilled chicken breast or pork chops
  • As an alternative to lime juice in spicy Thai soups like Tom Yums
  • As a key ingredient in Pad Thai
  • Mix together some tamarind water, a little sugar syrup and some crushed ice and process in a blender for a very easy tropical tamarind shake

While you can buy jarred tamarind water or tamarind concentrate, I have never found these already processed products to be as tasty as the original – and since it’s pretty easy to soak a little tamarind in a little water, I’d recommend doing it yourself.

Tamarind is good for your health, boasting ample amounts of vitamin B and C, flavanoids and carotenes.

Making Tamarind Water Video

Comments 4 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

Tamarind juice is a very tasty and refreshing drink on a hot day, John D.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I love tamarind and what great tips here. I see I can do so much more with it. Many thanks and rated up! Yay!


chirls profile image

chirls 6 years ago from Indiana (for now)

Love the idea of tamarind instead of lime/lemon juice. And thanks for the info - I used to have a jar of tamarind concentrate, but I had no idea what to do with it!


John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the comments and I hope you give tamarind a try!

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