This simple tamarind paste is made with one ingredient (tamarind) and can be used to make a whole bunch of other recipes like tamarind juice, chutney, sauce and more.
You can use it in your favorite Thai and Indian dishes too. I’ve used it to boost the flavor profile of my homemade BBQ sauce. Shhh! That’s the secret ingredient.
Tamarind paste has the typical tangy, tart-like flavor.
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Ever heard of tamarind?
It’s part of the legume family – think soybeans, peas and peanuts.
The tamarind fruit comes in brown, thin-shelled pods. When you remove the shell, you’ll find a series of seeds surrounding thin, brown flesh. It’s that flesh that holds all the tangy, delicious tamarind flavor.
When you extract the flavor (usually by adding hot water and squeezing the flesh), you can make lots of wonderful recipes. Tamarind juice is a unique thirst quencher. And you can make chutneys and tamarind candy too (we call it tamarind balls).
So, you can see there are lots of wonderful tamarind recipes. And guess what? Tamarind pods and flesh can last for years in the fridge. I’m not kidding. Its shelf-life is incredibly long. Once it is kept dry, tamarind won’t ever grow mold or bacteria in the fridge. So, you can stock up and use it years later.
Get tamarind on Amazon.
Note, if your tamarind pulp is older and darker, it will make a darker tamarind paste. Fresher tamarind pulp is lighter brown and will make a lighter colored paste. Both taste the same.
Making tamarind paste starts the same way as all other tamarind recipes – by extracting the flavor from the tamarind flesh. Once extracted, you can heat to sterilize the extract and strain to remove the seeds.
The resulting paste can be used to make all the other tamarind recipes. So, having the paste made beforehand and kept in the fridge will save you time and effort as you whip up your favorite dishes.
Let’s get into a little more detail on how to make tamarind paste from scratch.
How to Make Tamarind Paste
Starting to make the paste will depend on what you bought.
If you were able to get your hands on tamarind in the shells, then the starting point would be to remove the shells. This is how I purchased tamarind and I prefer it since it can last for months (and years) in the fridge.
Break and peel the shells off. You can add the shells to your compost instead of throwing it away. Remove the tamarind “strings.”
If you buy tamarind pulp, you can start from this point.
Squeeze the tamarind pulp to pull apart the seeds from each other. Add the seeds and pulp to a bowl.
Pour boiling water over the tamarind and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
When the water has cooled, squeeze the tamarind pulp to soften it. Let it sit for another 15 minutes before squeezing again to separate the pulp from the seeds.
Strain and boil the liquid for 5 minutes to form the tamarind paste. This boiling step is for sterilizing the paste so it will last longer in the fridge. You can add a pinch of salt too for the same reason.
Allow to cool before bottling. Keep in the fridge. It’ll last a couple months in there.
You can discard the seeds.
The best use for tamarind paste is to make tamarind chutney. But you can add it to your favorite thai recipes, sauces and even drinks.
Is Tamarind Good for You?
Tamarind is especially rich in minerals. The USDA Food Database show tamarind has high levels of copper and moderate levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It also has low levels of calcium too. Imagine… calcium in the fruit!
Besides minerals, you’ll find good levels of Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 in the fresh pulp.
This recipe yields 3 tablespoons of tamarind paste. Scale up your recipe accordingly.
Tamarind Paste: Simple and Easy to Make
- ½ cup tamarind pulp and seeds
- ½ cup boiling water
- pinch of salt
- Peel the tamarind and remove the strings.
- Break apart to separate the seeds from each other.
- Pour boiling water over the seeds and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Squeeze the seeds to soften the pulp.
- Leave to sit for another 15 minutes.
- Squeeze the seeds again to separate the pulp.
- Strain and discard the seeds.
- Boil the tamarind liquid over medium heat for 5 minutes to sterilize the paste.
- Add a pinch of salt for further sterilization.
- Allow to cool before bottling (it'll be about 3 tablespoons).
- Store in the fridge.