The Spice Series: Tamarind

This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Tamarind!




**I had never heard of tamarind before I started researching spices for my Spice Series. Have you ever heard of it? One thing is for sure: I bet we have all tasted it, even if we did not know what it is! Tamarind is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, a common kitchen item for marinades, gravies, and sauces.

**The spice tamarind is actually from pods on the native-African tamarind tree. This tree gets to be over 100 feet tall and 30 feet wide, it can survive high winds and drought, and are pretty much indestructible. Since it is a tall, tropical tree, I will not be writing ‘how to grow’ it section, however, it can grow in Florida, so if you live there and have room in your yard for a gigantic tree, I encourage you to research how to grow this beauty!

**When the pods are harvested/gathered, the shells and seeds are removed and the pulp is made into paste or cakes. It is exposed to air and aged appropriately. After this, it takes on a sharp, acidic, sour taste. In fact, it is often used a souring agent in Eastern countries in a similar way that Western countries use lemons.


**I hope you like this material, and, as always, if you have any questions/comments/additional sources for me, please post in the comment section below! Enjoy!


Medicinal Benefitstamarind

**Tamarind is full of antioxidants, including tartaric acid (which is also found in bananas and grapes). Tamarind is also an excellent source of calcium, B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine.

**Tamarind is still being studied by researchers, and I make it clear when the studies below are done only animals so far or also on people whenever I can. The biggest medicinal benefit of tamarind is that it helps cure/prevent a whole bunch of eye problems. Check out below for more details.


**Tamarind can help cure/prevent the following:


*Research done on animals has shown that tamarind helps against colon cancer. More research needs to be done on this, but any progress is better than none!

Cholesterol problems:

*Researchers have shown in human studies that taking tamarind extract helps lower LDL cholesterol as well as diastolic blood pressure.

Diabetes, type 1:

*Tamarind has long been a traditional medicinal cure for diabetes in India. Researchers have so far done animal studies that show that tamarind has beneficial effects on Type 1 diabetes, though more research is still being done on the topic today.


*Tamarind has many benefits for the eyes. First, there is dry eye problems. 30 percent of Americans suffer from dry eyes and tamarind might be a solution for you. Researchers made eye drops from tamarind and tested it on people with amazing results. Currently, the tests are still in the preliminary stages, though you can expect more tamarind eye drop options in the near future. Second, there is pink eye problems. Tamarind eye drops have also been found to help speed the healing of pink eye. This is also still being studied. Third, tamarind helps against cataracts, again in the form of eye drops. They are also still being studied.

Kidney stones:

*Researchers discovered that people in southern India (who eat more tamarind) had less kidney stone problems compared to those in northern India (who eat less tamarind). They soon realized by doing human studies that tamarind consumption offers some protection against getting kidney stones as well as helping protect you from having recurring kidney stones.



Culinary Uses

**Tamarind’s taste is best described as tasting like lemon or lime but with an edge. It is very sour and tangy and only a little bit is necessary for cooking. It adds not only a tang but also a dark color to gravies, stir-fries, soups/stews, curries, chutneys, and other sauces.

**In Western countries, it is not only found in our Worcestershire sauce, but also our Angostura bitters, a key ingredient in many cocktails.


**Tamarind is a very popular souring agent in Eastern countries and tropical countries, whereas lemons are the souring agent of choice in Western countries.

**In South India, tamarind is used most often in paste-form, and it is used in their fish curries, vegetarian dishes, chowders/stews/soups, and in their curry dishes called vindaloos.

**In Asia, tamarind is used in marinades, dipping sauces, stir-fries, and also the hot and sour soups in China, Thailand, and Singapore.

**In Thailand and the Philippines, tamarind is added to sugar and other items to make sweet treats and candies.

**In Jamaica, tamarind is used in jams and syrups, but most importantly, it is in their popular condiment called pickapeppa sauce.

**Tamarind is also diluted and combined with sugar to make a cool, refreshing soft drink, which is very popular in especially Jamaica and Latin American countries.




**Tamarind pairs well with these spices: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Fenugreek, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard seeds, and Turmeric.

**Tamarind compliments recipes including: Asian soups, Chutneys, Curry pastes, Peanuts, Pickled foods, and Stir-fries.


**Most Indian and Asian grocery stores sell tamarind, but you might not know what to look for. They are often sold in plastic-wrapped blocks of pulp that are dark brown and sticky. You get the flavor by soaking the it in hot water and squeezing it out.


**Tamarind is also sold as a concentrate, but that must also be diluted. The concentrate is easier to work with then the paste-blocks.









**Sometimes recipes call for pulp and then you use the pulp, but oftentimes, the recipe will say “tamarind water” or “tamarind juice”. These two terms mean the same thing. Here’s how you get it: if you buy tamarind in the paste-block form, break off a piece (1 inch) and soak it in 1 cup of hot water for about 15 minutes, squeeze out as much water as possible, strain, and discard the paste/pulp. If you buy the concentrate, soak ¼ cup of the tamarind concentrate with 1 cup of hot water for about 15 minutes and then strain. These are estimated ratios of tamarind to water. Each brand varies in potency and you will need to experiment with it.

**If you have extra tamarind water/juice after the recipe, you can freeze it in ice cube trays for future use. It does not keep in the refrigerator very well.


**Tamarind is high in acid, so it keeps well as long as it is kept in airtight containers.

**If you cannot find tamarind near you, but you find it in a recipe, there are a few substitutes, though the real thing is the best. You can use vinegar instead in equal ratio to the amount of tamarind that was required. You can also use lime juice, with a ratio of 2:1 (ex: 2tbsp. lime juice for every 1 tbsp. tamarind). These substitutes only work well if the required tamarind is less than 2 tbsp.

Tamarind Blocks, Pastes, and Pod
Tamarind Blocks, Pastes, and Pod


There you go! This is most of the information that I could find about tamarind. Please click here for my introduction to my Spice Series.  Again, if you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!


If you have any tamarind recipes, I would LOVE to post them and use them! Please message me or comment below!

Please note: I only added pictures of brands with tamarind in order to give you an idea of what to look like. I am not affiliated with any of these companies.

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