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Tamarind is a tropical fruit that grows as a pod on the tamarind tree. The pod or fruit is shaped like a bean and contains a pulp with lots of seeds. This pulp is usually mashed with water to create “juice” that is extensively used in many cuisines around the world for its souring properties; it is also used for medicinal properties and believe or not, as a polishing agent!
Some of the world’s most sought after recipes rely on this amazing ingredient, like the Thai Tom Yum Soup and of course, it is an important ingredient in Worcestershire Sauce.
It is usually found sold in dried slices, packaged as a paste with or without the seeds and also in ready to use form at most major supermarkets these days.
The instructions for using tamarind pulp are below.
If using ready made in jars from major supermarkets, try and get the ones that have as few ingredients as possible.
Follow the given instructions on how much to use but as a rough guide:
1 tablespoon of jar paste = 1 tablespoon of pulp.
The best substitute for tamarind is the good old white (clear) vinegar. It gives you the same sour flavour in a recipe. Second best is lime juice. While lime juice is exceptional in its own right, as a substitute for tamarind, you may have to use less, as it also imparts a citrusy flavour to your recipe.
The following are just some of my childhood recipes that use tamarind:
So, shall we get our aprons on?
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- 2 heaped Tbsp tamarind pulp
- 125 ml lukewarm or hot water (not boiling)
- Soak the pulp in the water for 10-20 minutes. The hotter the water, the less time you need.
- After the soaking time, give it all good mix with, squeezing the pulp with your fingers, then strain through a medium or large mesh sieve.