The tamarind flavor is tangy and sweet. Tamarind concentrate adds a distinct taste to dishes, which is why most chefs can’t help but reach for it. If you are not able to find it for your recipe, you can surely find a substitute for tamarind concentrate nearby.
Tamarind concentrate is also called tamarind paste. It is made by boiling tamarind in water until the pulp softens. The seeds are discarded, and the remaining thick liquid is reduced until it becomes a paste.
Since no other ingredient is added to this, tamarind concentrate is true to its name. It has a concentrated tangy, tart, and sweet flavor indeed. This unique taste blends well with sweet and savory dishes, so it is safe to say that it is pretty versatile.
If you think you have not had it yet, think again. It is a mainstay in Indian cuisine. Tamarind concentrate is often used in curries and chutney. This paste is also often used in Thai cooking as an ingredient in their popular dish Pad Thai, among other uses.
Tamarind paste is also a main ingredient in the popular condiment Worcestershire sauce.
If you can access fresh tamarind, you can easily make your tamarind concentrate at home.
Tamarind concentrate is not always available in grocery stores. But you can try your luck finding it in Asian specialty stores. If it still does not work, it’s high time to find an alternative.
Here are our top substitutes for tamarind concentrate.
At the top of our list is amchoor powder. This Indian condiment is made from grinding unripe green mangoes. As you can imagine, this has a tart and fruity mango flavor. It goes well with savory dishes, very much like tamarind concentrate.
However, the biggest consideration is that it has a different consistency. It is in powder form, while tamarind concentrate is a paste.
This powder can substitute tamarind concentrate where additional moisture is not needed. Yet, if you want to get closer to the concentrate, you can make a paste using an amchoor. Add a bit of water and mix until you get the desired thickness. Use as you would tamarind concentrate.
You can also add this to meat dishes, as amchoor powder has meat tenderizing properties.
One of the easiest substitutes for tamarind concentrate is lemon or lime juice. These citrus juices will give you a sour flavor that will add acidity to your dishes. Yet, it does not have that sweet taste that comes with tamarind. Add some brown sugar to mimic the tamarind concentrate’s sweetness and appearance.
To replace tamarind concentrate, you can also make a paste out of dried fruits and lemon juice. Take dried prunes, dates, and apricot. Blend them with lemon juice until you get your desired texture.
This paste will have the sweet and sour flavor you want from tamarind concentrate. For this reason, you can use this paste as a direct substitute.
The combination of vinegar and sugar can also replace tamarind paste. The sugar balances the acidity and sourness of vinegar and results in a decent mixture. Of course, the vinegar you’ll use will affect the taste. For a better substitution experience, use mild-tasting vinegar. Avoid balsamic even when it is closer in color to tamarind concentrate.
Go for any of the following:
Other citrus juices can also be a tamarind concentrate substitute in recipes. You can use grapefruit or orange juice instead of lemon or lime juice.
Remember that these citrus fruits can alter the final taste of your recipe. You may need to adjust the other recipe ingredients to compensate for this. Yet, citrus juices are your best bet if you want to add a little twist to your dishes.
They are also relatively easy to find. You probably have some of these fruits sitting in your pantry.
As mentioned, tamarind concentrate is one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. For this reason, this popular condiment can also be a tamarind paste substitute. This sauce has an equally complex flavor that can elevate your dishes.
Combine it with tomato paste, brown sugar, and fresh lemon juice for the best results.
Be mindful that it has a salty taste missing from tamarind concentrate. This is not much of a concern if you want to add it to savory dishes. Yet, this might not be suitable if you make sweet recipes, especially desserts. You are better off with other substitutes for tamarind concentrate.
The best substitute for tamarind concentrate is the pulp of the tamarind fruit.
Since it is from the same fruit, you can be sure that this alternative will provide you with the exact flavor match.
Tamarind pulp is sold in blocks, as they are dried before packaging. You will first need to get it into a texture that can work in your recipes. To use it, you must soak the pulp until it gets soft. Then you’d have to run it through a sieve to get the liquid. This is basically tamarind concentrate itself.
The process is a bit time-consuming, so it might not be the best alternative if you are in a hurry. But this provides the closest flavor, so you can use it in all recipes that call for tamarind concentrate.
If using an alternative does not sit well with you, you can make your own tamarind paste. This will enable you to cook your recipes without any flavor change.
Here is an easy recipe for homemade tamarind concentrate.
What you need:
The tamarind’s sweet and sour taste goes well with many other flavors. You can use it in a lot of recipes, including the following:
One of the most notable uses of tamarind concentrate is as an ingredient in Pad Thai. This Thai recipe uses stir-fried noodles slathered in a rich sauce. The sauce is made from the following ingredients:
Tamarind concentrate is also added to curry recipes. It adds that distinct tang to the sauce and blends perfectly with coconut milk. The final dish is rich and savory and popular in the Indian subcontinent.
Chutney is an Indian condiment. It is an umbrella term for fruits, vegetables, and other food preserved in vinegar in sugar. Tamarind chutney is made from tamarind paste, jaggery, and water. It is seasoned with spices of choice.
Tamarind paste is also popularly used as a souring agent in soups and stews. It is a popular addition to the Philippine soup dish Pork Sinigang and the Malaysian Laksa soup.
Mix tamarind concentrate, olive oil, soy sauce, and water for a quick tamarind dressing. Add garlic and ginger powder to taste.
You can also make a refreshing drink using tamarind concentrate. Mix it with water, and add sugar and ice. This makes a great beverage on those hot summer afternoons!
Thai chili jam is a condiment most commonly used to flavor stir-fries, soups, and stews. Among its ingredients are the following:
Yes, tamarind concentrate and tamarind paste are the same things. If you cannot find a jar labeled tamarind concentrate, try looking for tamarind paste.
To know if tamarind paste has gone bad, you can first inspect it for mold growth. If there are no molds, observe the color of the product itself. Any discoloration is a sign of spoilage. A strong, unpleasant smell also indicates that tamarind concentrate has gone bad.
If you are going to use it in a few days, tamarind concentrate needs no refrigeration. Storing it in a cool, dry place will keep it good. However, if you want to extend its shelf life, you can store it in the fridge. This way, it will last for 3-4 weeks. For a longer storage period, keep it in the freezer, where it will last for months.
Tamarind paste is made from tamarind pulp and is used to add flavor to dishes. Using fresh tamarind, you can easily make tamarind concentrate.
Yet, you can use different alternatives if you do not have the time and resources to make your own at home. Among the best ones are lemon and lime juice, a mixture of vinegar and sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.
Consider the other ingredients in your recipes when choosing a substitute. Some options, like Worcestershire sauce, won’t work well in all dishes.