A Tamarind Primer

I recently tossed a block of plastic-wrapped tamarind paste into my grocery basket on a whim. I was at a Mexican market, but the store offered unusual food items from around the globe.

Native to Africa but found throughout Southeast Asia , drought-resistant tamarind trees produce pods that encase small beans, and these beans nestle in a sticky pulp. During harvesting, the pods are discarded, and the pulp is pressed into cakes or blocks, like the kind I found at my market.

In Thailand, the pulp may be sprinkled with sugar and eaten as a sweet treat, or diluted and squeezed, creating a juice. It’s also used in making Pad Thai. In Latin America , tamarind juice is incorporated into chilly and refreshing agua frescas and batidos. And in Indian cookery, it’s a widely used souring agent, especially popular in tamarind chutney. In fact, tamarind has even been nicknamed the “Indian date.”

To incorporate tamarind paste into recipes, dissolve a small nubbin in hot water, as it’s highly concentrated.

Another interesting factoid? Tamarind is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.

Look for tamarind pods, pastes, and chutneys in Southeast Asian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern markets.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.




The Daily Feed: The Enigmatic Persimmon
- See all of Cheryl's posts here



Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web