The Best Tamarind Paste Substitute
Sweet and tart, tamarind is a fantastic option to eat raw, add its pulp or paste in vegetables, or even make delicious chutneys. But, if you don’t have any at hand, here are a few substitutes for tamarind paste that can be used in cooking.
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Tamarind is a tangy-sweet fruit that is mainly available in Asian Countries. Any recipe which needs tart or tanginess and natural sweetness indulge the use of Tamarind. You can use this fruit in the form of paste or syrup. In case you do not have it in your kitchen, a few close substitute for tamarind might work in that case.
Many people do not like tamarind flavors and some are unaware of its uses. It is an exotic fruit that can be eaten raw, in chutneys, or a cooking ingredient to give a tangy blend to any recipe. This fruit holds special importance in Indian Kitchens due to several reasons. Indian Sambar is very famous due to the interesting tamarind flavors in it. You can either make tamarind paste on your own or even get it from the market. Tamarind paste and dried tamarind is mostly accessible in the various local grocery stores.
In case you are unable to find it nearby, replacing it with a substitute for tamarind paste can also work in that case. Flavors of these substitute are quite similar but the taste of the final dish might differ a little. Getting some more highlights on Tamarind paste can enable you to identify its closest alternatives around you.
Table of Contents
What Is Tamarind Fruit?
Understanding the peculiarities of tamarind is a good way to start the search on a substitute for tamarind. Tamarind is a long brown fruit that is grown on trees. Pods are grown on the trees and the tamarind fruit is encased in it. It grows in a Pattern similar to dates. But the taste you achieve out of it is unique. Dates are on a sweeter side while the tamarind fruit contains more tangy flavors. This is the reason why many side dips use this fruit as it adds to its tart taste. Several desserts or savory recipes use this paste too.
Where Is Tamarind Paste Available?
With so many delicious taste properties, one would surely like to own a packet of tamarind paste. Are you wondering where you can get this exotic paste? As it is a part of many Asian cuisines, you can conveniently get it from a local Asian supermarkets or the grocery store. In India, tamarind or imli is available easily online and at local grocery stores.
However, you can also find it in many other regions due to its increasing popularity globally. Even if you get an option to buy the tamarind fruit itself, it is surely a good deal. Many simple recipes can allow you to prepare and store the tamarind paste at home itself.
The Kitchen Uses Of Tamarind
Tamarind recipes are not just part of the Indian kitchen but they can be widely grown in many other regions of Southeast Asia. There are also several Mexican recipes and recipes from Middle East countries that involve the use of tamarind paste in it.
It contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron and so on and so forth. It is a great antioxidant, which increases its popularity in Indian kitchens.
It blends well with various food items like curries, chicken, seafood, desserts, and various other stir-fry dishes. Other uses of this paste also involve marinates that enables them to give a mild tart flavor.
For How Long Can Tamarind Paste Stay Fresh?
You can surely store tamarind paste for quite a long time. Storing it in a cool and dry place will protect it from any damages. Also, get an airtight container as that would solve your storage problems as well. It is anyways advisable to once check the paste before using it as storing it for the long term might spoil it.
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Recipe For Homemade Tamarind Paste
Preparing the tamarind paste from scratch is a great idea. It might take a bit of your time but its exotic taste compels you for the process.
To make tamarind paste, first, gather the pods and remove fruit from it. Now take some water and put it to boil. Add the tamarind fruit and simmer for around 15 minutes in any saucepan. For a quarter cup of fruit, you just need to take 4 tablespoons of water.
After the simmering process is done, the next step is to use a potato masher and properly mash fruits till the bottom. You now have a paste ready to use. It can be a time-consuming process as well. There is a ready tamarind paste available in many online stores. Buying it can be a truly time savvy option.
Substitutes For Tamarind Paste
If you fail to cope with either alternative, using a substitute for tamarind paste is a good option. Few options are listed below for the same –
1. Make it with basic ingredients
Certain common kitchen ingredients can enable you to get an ideal tamarind paste substitute within a few minutes. Take a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water to it. Now add 3 tablespoon lemon juice in it. After that, prepare a half cup of tomato paste and add 3 tablespoon tomato sauce to it. Keep stirring the mixture in between. Add 2 big spoons of brown sugar as well. If you do not wish to add lemon juice, replace it with the apple cider vinegar.
2. Pomegranate Molasses
Pomegranate Molasses is another substitute for tamarind paste. It has a thick consistency of a dark color syrup which is made after reducing the pomegranate juice. Pomegranate Molasses gives a perfect sweet and sour taste like that of tamarind. It is a great alternative for any kind of Indian as well as Asian cuisine. While you are using Pomegranate Molasses, ensure that it is in the same quantity as that of tamarind paste.
3. Fruit Combinations
Take some fruits like chopped prunes, apricots, dates, and lemon juice. Add them all to a small bowl of water. Now let the fruits soak for some time and let them relax for 20-30 minutes. This would soften them and you can blend them into the paste. It can be a great substitute for tamarind paste as the texture of these fruits and tamarind are somewhat similar. Although the tart of tamarind is unique and nothing can match its taste. But it can be a temporary solution to the original ingredient.
4. Combine Brown sugar and Lime Juice
Both these ingredients are very appealing. Lime juice (which enhances immunity, due to the high content of Vitamin C) can offer a good tangy flavor while sugar is a good option for perfect balance. It is a very close substitute for tamarind due to the similarity between the flavors. Adding this alternative in many recipes would not even let you know the difference between the two. Using lime juice and brown sugar in equal quantities to attain a perfect mixture.
5. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is quite distinct but good replacement. But opt for a premium quality one as the local one might deteriorate the taste of your recipe.
6. Citrus Marmalade
Marmalade has citrus properties and this is the sole reason why it can be a good substitute. It is astringent and has a bitter flavor. These ingredients can give a nice depth of flavor to the mixture and make it a perfect substitute for tamarind paste.
7. Amchur Powder
Amchur powder is made out of unripe mangoes. It is also known as a dry mango powder. The best part is Amchur powder is a common spice in every kitchen. North Indians use this ingredient in many dishes. It provides a perfect acidic, fruity, and sour flavors just like tamarind. Also, the distinct whiff of Amchur makes it more tempting and delicious.
8. Dried Tamarind Pulp
Dried tamarind pulp is also available at local grocery stores. You can get this pulp and create a perfect authentic paste out of it. Do try to get some pulp that is fresh to get a better quality of the paste. If you are preparing the pulp on your own, be sure of removing all seeds out of it. You can also strain the pulp if you wish to skip seeds removal by hand.
Take half a cup of warm water and add 2 tablespoon pulp to it. Allow the pulp to soak water and soften up. When your pulp gets blended properly with the water, you can use it as a paste.
9. Mango Chutney
How about using the mango chutney as a substitute for tamarind paste? If you are using mango chutney as a replacement of tamarind, you must not compromise on quality. Buying a low-grade mango chutney would fail to provide you the kind of consistency and texture you require.
You must either make it at home or get it with some good brands. This can assure you of a good substitute with perfect tartness in it. If you have the mango chutney with large fruit pieces in it, a better alternative is to use a mixer or a processor to blend it. If you fail at it, the final dish on your plate might not be as presentable as you would wish to.
The final substitute for tamarind chutney is a common vinegar. Although it may not stand as a perfect substitute, it can be the last on your list of replacements. Vinegar is also packed with several health benefits as well. Vinegar has a very pungent taste. So you can also use it for a milder alternative. Options like apple cider, rice vinegar, or the white wine vinegar can work better in such cases. Add some ground dates for sweetness and you can get a perfect consistency of tamarind paste.
Related Read : Best Sumac Substitute And How To Use It?
Tips To Use Tamarind Substitutes
Look for sugar content in readymade substitutes
Although tamarind itself is an extremely healthy option to munch on, there are also other relatively healthier options if it is out of stock. Marmalade and Mango chutney can be a good alternative option. But getting good brands for the same is highly important to ensure quality. Try buying products with a low sugar content. High sugar quantities are always an unhealthy option. Even if the ingredient list comprises of brown sugar, ensure even it is in a moderate quantity. Anything in excess is always troublesome.
The closest substitute
Although there are many substitutes for tamarind paste, nothing comes close to pomegranate molasses. Getting a good molasses can replicate the taste of tamarind paste. It is rich, premium, and has strikingly similar texture. If you somehow manage to get this substitute, your family would not be able to differentiate between the two.
When you are searching for a substitute for tamarind paste, another factor of consideration is the convenience. If you are unable to get it without much hassle, then your recipe would stay incomplete. It is always better to look for substitutes that are easily available. So you can modify the substitute list to tick the most easily available options. As far as the ingredients available at home are relevant, adding some lime juice and brown sugar is good to go. You can also sneak out in the kitchen for other alternatives like the amchur powder or white vinegar.
If any of these are absent in your culinary area, you can visit the nearby grocery store for the same. There are many simple things which are sometimes not present in the house. As a result, you can always stock them while making a supermarket visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
While people search for a substitute for tamarind paste, a few questions are running down their minds. Getting useful information about it can enable us to make better choices. Here is a list of top queries that you may be thinking of regarding the substitutes to tamarind paste.
Although tamarind paste and concentrate are relatively similar in their flavors, it is lesser fruity. Also, the color of the concentrate is more on the intense tone. If you are using a tamarind concentrate, ensure to use it in lesser quantities.
Yes. Tamarind is gluten free. Many people have gluten allergies and look for foods that can help them cook and eat without triggering sever allergic reactions. Tamarind is the perfect tastemaker to add to any dish to bring a tang!
You can just get the tamarind pods from the market and remove it to eat raw. Its sweet and tangy flavors are truly mouth melting. Very few know that it has a high antioxidant content and is rich in Vitamin C.
Keto diet emphasizes the removal of all unnecessary carbohydrates from your meal and engages in protein-rich foods. Tamarind has a high carbohydrate proportion and if you are on a keto diet, it is better to search for a substitute for tamarind.
If you are in the hunt for the ideal paste for sambhar, add 2 tablespoon water, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoon sauce, half cup tomato paste, and 2 spoons of brown sugar. You can also prepare this paste and store it in the fridge for a few days.
Getting an ideal substitute for tamarind paste can be quite a tricky task as it has an altogether different flavor. You just need to catch up on interesting flavors and mixes that can work in place of Tamarind paste substitute. If you are a tamarind lover and do not want to replace it with any other option, the right way is to get it stock up in your kitchen pantry. Check your grocery list and if tamarind paste if out of it, add it instantly. There are many online stores where you can find some good brands of such pastes. Order them and prepare any dish you would like to eat with it.
Tamarind is vegan and so are the tamarind substitutes listed above. If you are a vegan, you do not have to think twice about it. Almost all substitutes listed above are vegan. In Asian countries, tamarind is a highly preferred fruit for vegans to add a tart taste in their meals.
With high Vitamin C and citrus properties, tamarind can protect you from several diseases as well. Another interesting fact about tamarind is that heals your wounds quickly. Tamarind is also blessed with anti-inflammatory properties. This ensures that this fruit is protecting you from infections and apsis on wounds.
Tamarind paste as well as the whole fruit is a great option to add taste to your favorite dishes. Anything you eat or drink with a tang of tamarind is a tasty affair. If you somehow do not have this wonderful fruit at your home, it is a good option to get some packets or get a readymade paste.