Tamarind Sauce

Tamarind Sauce sauce

Tamarind sauce, a quintessential condiment originating from several cultures, is famed for its tangy, sweet, and sometimes spicy flavors. With a rich history and a myriad of applications, it’s no wonder this sauce has taken the culinary world by storm. This article delves deep into its origin, preparation, and varied uses, offering you a comprehensive understanding of this delightful concoction.

Can You Cook With Tamarind Sauce?

Absolutely! Tamarind sauce, made from the pulp of the tamarind fruit, offers a unique sweet and sour flavor that can enhance many dishes. Here are some ways you can cook with tamarind sauce:

  1. Curries and Stews: Tamarind is a staple in many Asian and Indian curries, lending a tangy depth to the dish. Add a spoonful or two of tamarind sauce to your curry or stew to give it an authentic sour touch.
  2. Marinades: Due to its acidity, tamarind sauce can be used as a marinade for meats like chicken, beef, and fish. It helps tenderize and infuse the meat with a tangy flavor.
  3. Dressings and Dips: Mix tamarind sauce with some olive oil, garlic, and seasonings of your choice to create a tangy salad dressing. Alternatively, mix it with other ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, and chili for a delicious dipping sauce.
  4. Soups: Tamarind sauce is a primary ingredient in soups like the Thai “Tom Yum” which has a distinct sweet and sour flavor.
  5. Beverages: Tamarind drink, or “Agua de Tamarindo”, is popular in many Latin American countries. It’s made by diluting tamarind sauce with water, adding sugar, and then chilling.
  6. Noodles and Stir-fries: Tamarind sauce is a key ingredient in Pad Thai, a Thai noodle dish. Its tanginess complements the sweet and savory components of the dish.
  7. Desserts: In some cultures, tamarind sauce is used in desserts, either as a syrup over ice cream or to create candies.
  8. Braising: The acidic nature of tamarind sauce makes it ideal for slow-cooked dishes. It can help break down tougher cuts of meat over extended cooking.
  9. Chutneys and Relishes: Tamarind sauce can be used as a base for chutneys and relishes, which can be served with rice, flatbreads, or grilled meats.

When cooking with tamarind sauce, remember that a little goes a long way. Start by adding a small amount to your dish, taste, and adjust according to your preference. Depending on the brand or preparation, the potency of tamarind sauces can vary, so it’s essential to adjust the quantity based on taste.

Preparing Authentic Tamarind Sauce

Making tamarind sauce is an art, one that’s been perfected over centuries. Below, we guide you through a basic yet authentic recipe to prepare this delectable sauce.


  • Tamarind pulp: 200 grams
  • Sugar: 2 tablespoons (adjust to taste)
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon (or as per taste)
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Red chili powder: 1/2 teaspoon (optional for added heat)


  1. Start by soaking the tamarind pulp in warm water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Once softened, mash the pulp and strain to get the tamarind extract.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the tamarind extract, sugar, salt, and water.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on low heat until it thickens.
  5. For those who desire a spicy kick, add red chili powder.
  6. Once the desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and let it cool.
  7. Store in a glass container and refrigerate. This sauce can last for several weeks when stored properly.

How To Use Tamarind Sauce?

Tamarind sauce is a tangy and sweet condiment often used in various cuisines around the world. To use tamarind sauce, you can drizzle or mix it into dishes to add depth and a burst of flavor. It’s commonly added to stir-fries, used as a marinade for meats and fish, or mixed into rice dishes.

Tamarind sauce can also be a base for soups or stews, enhancing the dish with its distinctive sour-sweet profile. For those who love dipping sauces, tamarind sauce pairs well with spring rolls, samosas, and other fried snacks. It’s also a key ingredient in certain noodle dishes, like Pad Thai. For a sweet twist, you can even swirl it into desserts or use it as a glaze for pastries. Adjust the quantity of tamarind sauce according to your taste preference and the particular dish you’re preparing.

Applications in World Cuisines

Tamarind sauce isn’t just limited to one region or cuisine; its versatility allows it to shine in various dishes worldwide.

Asian Cuisines:

In places like Thailand, tamarind sauce is often used as a base for Pad Thai. It also acts as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or a glazing agent for grilled meats.

Indian Delicacies:

India, with its vast culinary landscape, uses tamarind sauce in a multitude of dishes. From the popular street food ‘Pani Puri’ to the scrumptious ‘Samosas’, tamarind sauce is a must-have accompaniment.

Caribbean Flavors:

In the Caribbean, tamarind sauce often gets a spicy twist with the addition of scotch bonnet peppers. It’s widely used as a marinade for grilled fish or meat.

Health Benefits of Tamarind

Apart from its culinary uses, tamarind comes packed with health benefits. It’s rich in essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Moreover, tamarind possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Making Homemade Tamarind Paste for Thai Cooking

Tamarind paste is a staple ingredient in Thai cuisine, known for its tangy and slightly sweet flavor. While store-bought tamarind paste is convenient, making it at home from tamarind pulp brings a unique depth of taste and versatility to your dishes. This article will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating homemade tamarind paste that you can use in your cooking endeavors.

Gathering the Ingredients

To make homemade tamarind paste, you’ll need tamarind pulp and hot water. Tamarind pulp can be obtained in blocks, which are readily available in many grocery stores or specialty markets.

The Process

  1. Breaking the Tamarind Block: Start by breaking the tamarind block into smaller chunks. This will expedite the dissolving process in the water and increase the surface area for soaking.
  2. Soaking in Hot Water: Place the tamarind chunks in a large bowl and add hot water. The water should be hot enough to aid in thorough dissolving. Allow the tamarind to soak for about 30 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle.
  3. Removing Fibers: Once the tamarind has soaked, it’s time to separate the pulp from the fibers. Using your hands or gloves, massage the tamarind chunks to remove the flesh from the fibers. This step ensures that there are no seeds or fibers in the final paste.
  4. Straining the Pulp: Strain the tamarind pulp using a coarse sieve into a pot. This will remove any remaining fibers and provide a smooth consistency.
  5. Cooking the Pulp: Bring the strained tamarind pulp to a boil in the pot. Stir constantly to prevent splattering. Cooking the tamarind kills off any bacteria and extends the shelf life of the paste.
  6. Storing the Paste: Once the tamarind pulp has been cooked, transfer it to a container suitable for storing. Mason jars are ideal, as they create a vacuum seal when filled with hot ingredients. However, any well-sealed container will work. Keep the container in the refrigerator for freshness.

Adjusting the Flavor

Tasting your homemade tamarind paste is crucial, as acidity levels can vary. Different batches of tamarind pulp might yield slightly different flavors. Adjust the quantity of the paste you use in your recipes based on the taste test, especially if you find the batch to be particularly sour.

Storing Tamarind Sauce

To ensure longevity, store your tamarind sauce in a cool, dark place before opening. Once opened, refrigerate it. A well-prepared sauce, when stored properly, can last for several months without losing its flavor and freshness.

Is Tamarind Keto-Friendly?

Tamarind, a tropical fruit known for its sweet and tangy flavor, is commonly used in various cuisines worldwide. For those following a ketogenic diet, it’s crucial to understand which foods can be incorporated without jeopardizing the state of ketosis.

The ketogenic diet focuses on consuming high fats, moderate proteins, and very low carbohydrates. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, it starts burning fats for energy, leading to the production of ketones.

Nutritional Profile of Tamarind: A single serving (about 28 grams or one ounce) of tamarind contains:

  • Calories: 69
  • Carbs: 17.8 grams
  • Fiber: 0.7 grams
  • Protein: 0.3 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

While tamarind does contain carbohydrates, it also has dietary fiber, which reduces the net carb count. The net carbs in food are the total carbs minus the dietary fiber. In the case of tamarind, the net carbs for a 28-gram serving would be 17.1 grams.

For those on a strict keto diet, where daily carbohydrate intake is limited to about 20-50 grams, consuming tamarind in large quantities could use up a significant portion of their daily carb allowance. However, in moderation and as part of a well-planned ketogenic diet, small amounts of tamarind can be included.

Using Tamarind on Keto: When incorporating tamarind into a keto diet:

  1. Limit Quantity: Use tamarind sparingly to ensure you don’t exceed your daily carb limits.
  2. Opt for Natural Forms: Choose raw tamarind or tamarind paste without added sugars.
  3. Be Mindful of Sauces: Tamarind-based sauces often contain added sugars, which can increase the carbohydrate content.

In conclusion, while tamarind is not inherently low-carb, it can be incorporated into a keto diet in limited amounts. As with any food on a ketogenic diet, it’s essential to monitor portion sizes and be aware of added ingredients that could increase carb counts.

What do you put tamarind sauce on?

Here’s a comprehensive list of dishes and foods that are enhanced with the magic touch of tamarind sauce:

Appetizers & Snacks

  • Samosas: Drizzle tamarind sauce over these deep-fried pastry pockets filled with spiced potatoes and peas for a burst of flavor.
  • Spring Rolls: A sweet tamarind dip complements the savory filling of these crispy rolls.
  • Pakoras: Enhance the taste of these deep-fried vegetable fritters with a side of tamarind sauce.

Main Course

  • Grilled Meats: Tamarind sauce can serve as a marinade or glaze for grilled chicken, pork, or fish, giving them a unique tangy kick.
  • Curries: The sauce can be incorporated into various curries to add a rich tanginess that balances the spices.
  • Stir-Fries: A splash of tamarind sauce in stir-fried vegetables or meat can add a delightful twist.


  • Thai Papaya Salad: Known as ‘Som Tam,’ this salad is elevated with the addition of tamarind sauce.
  • Roasted Vegetable Salad: Drizzle some tamarind sauce over roasted veggies for an added layer of flavor.

Rice & Noodles

  • Pad Thai: One of the key ingredients in this famous Thai noodle dish is tamarind sauce, which offers a sweet-sour taste.
  • Biryani: Some variations of this fragrant rice dish use tamarind for a tangy flavor.


  • Tamarind Juice: Dilute tamarind sauce with water, add some sweetener, and you have a refreshing drink.
  • Cocktails: The tangy nature of tamarind sauce can be used to create unique cocktail flavors.


  • Tamarind Sorbet: Blend tamarind sauce with sugar and water, and freeze for a tangy, refreshing sorbet.
  • Fruit Salads: A drizzle of tamarind sauce over mixed fruit can add an unexpected yet delightful flavor twist.

Street Food

  • Chaat: Popular in South Asia, these savory snacks are often drizzled with tamarind sauce for a tangy punch.
  • Tostadas & Tacos: In some regions, tamarind sauce is added to these dishes for a tangy twist.


  • Hot & Sour Soup: Tamarind sauce can be used to achieve the ‘sour’ element in this popular soup.

Dipping Sauce

  • For Fried Foods: Tamarind sauce, mixed with a little sugar and salt, makes an excellent dipping sauce for various fried foods.
  • With Raw Veggies: As an alternative to hummus or ranch, tamarind sauce offers a bold dipping choice.

Does Tamarind Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Tamarind sauce, after opening, should be refrigerated to ensure its freshness and prevent spoilage. The cool temperature of the refrigerator slows down the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, extending the sauce’s shelf life. Before opening, you can store tamarind sauce in a cool, dry place.

However, once opened, it’s best to keep it in the refrigerator and use it within the recommended time frame, often mentioned on the packaging. Always use a clean utensil when taking out the sauce to avoid contamination, and ensure the lid is tightly sealed when not in use.

Final Thoughts

Tamarind sauce is more than just a condiment. It’s a testament to the rich culinary history of numerous cultures, an embodiment of flavors, traditions, and memories. Whether you’re using it to elevate a dish or as a simple dip, its tangy and sweet notes are sure to tantalize your taste buds.


What is tamarind sauce made of?
Tamarind sauce is primarily made from the pulp extracted from the tamarind fruit. Depending on the recipe, it can also contain sugar, salt, and additional spices like chili powder.
Is tamarind sauce gluten-free?
Yes, authentic tamarind sauce made from pure tamarind pulp, sugar, and salt is gluten-free. However, always check the product label or inquire at restaurants to ensure there are no gluten-containing additives.
How does tamarind sauce taste?
Tamarind sauce offers a delightful combination of tangy and sweet flavors. Depending on the recipe, it can also have spicy undertones.
Can I use tamarind sauce as a marinade?
Absolutely! Tamarind sauce is versatile and can be used as a marinade for meats, poultry, and seafood, adding a tangy flavor that enhances the dish.
How long can tamarind sauce be stored?
When stored properly in a refrigerator, tamarind sauce can last for several weeks. If you're purchasing commercially-produced tamarind sauce, always check the expiration date.
Is tamarind sauce the same as tamarind paste?
No, they're different. Tamarind paste is a more concentrated form of tamarind, while tamarind sauce is a mixture of tamarind paste with water, sugar, salt, and other ingredients to achieve a specific flavor and consistency.
Are there any health benefits associated with tamarind?
Yes, tamarind is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also a source of essential minerals like magnesium and potassium.
Can I make tamarind sauce at home?
Certainly! Making tamarind sauce at home is quite simple. You'll need tamarind pulp, sugar, salt, and optional spices. Refer to our detailed method above for a step-by-step guide.
Is tamarind sauce vegan?
Traditional tamarind sauce is vegan, as it's made from plant-based ingredients. However, always ensure to check product labels or inquire about ingredients to confirm.
Can I use tamarind sauce in desserts?
Yes, the sweet-tangy flavor of tamarind sauce can complement various desserts, especially those that benefit from a hint of tartness.
Anna Gorelova
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