Best-Tamarind-Substitutes

The 5 Best Tamarind Substitutes

Tamarind is very popular to use in a range of foods, as it can help to provide the food with a tart and fruity flavor. It also has a slightly sweet taste to it. You will often find tamarind available for cooking as a paste or a syrup, but you can also find the actual fruit.

It can be a great addition to many different types of recipes, but you might not always have tamarind paste available. Below, we will be looking deeper into what tamarind is and some of the most common questions associated with it, as well as some popular tamarind substitutes.

The 5 Best Tamarind Substitutes

Tamarind is a brown fruit that grows on a tamarind tree. One of the interesting things about tamarind is that it grows inside of pods that are on the tree. It grows similarly to dates, but the taste is much different. Where dates have a sweet taste, there is more of a tanginess to tamarind. This lends itself well to being used in a range of dishes, including savory options and desserts alike.

Tamarind is native to tropical areas in Africa, although it is often thought of as being an Indian fruit. It was introduced a long time ago in India, which is why it is so common in so many dishes of Indian origins. Tamarind today grows in many parts of the world that are tropical and that have the right climate for it.

When cooking with tamarind, it is usually turned into a paste first. It is possible to buy the paste or to make the paste if you have the fruit. Later in the article, we will discuss how to make the tamarind paste.

Nutritional Breakdown

Tamarind Paste

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

35

Variable

Total Fat

0g

0%

Saturated Fat

0g

0%

Sodium

4mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

4g

2%

Dietary Fiber

1g

3%

Sugars

0g

NA

How Can Tamarind Be Used in the Kitchen?

Tamarind today is used in a wide range of dishes that come from around the world. It is very popular in Indian food, as well as food from Southeast Asia. However, you will also find it used in dishes from Mexico, as well as from many countries in the Middle East.

You can use it with chicken, seafood, stir fry dishes, and even in various types of deserts. It can also be used in a marinade, as it helps to tenderize the meat thanks to the slightly acidic quality. Many interesting recipes call for the use of tamarind paste.

Is Tamarind Vegan and Gluten-Free?

Because tamarind is a fruit, it is vegan, and it can be added to a range of vegan dishes to provide you with the taste of many traditional dishes.

There are vegan Indian dishes that utilize tamarind, and that might be a nice option to try if you haven't already. Also, it is also gluten-free for those who have celiac disease.

How Long Will Tamarind Paste Last?

Tamarind paste can last for a long time when kept in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. The jars of tamarind paste can last for about two years, but you will want to check the date on the paste that you choose.

You will want to check the paste before each use if you have had it for a long time to look for any evidence of mold.

Can Tamarind Be Eaten Raw?

Yes, you can eat tamarind raw and right out of the pod if you choose. It takes some work to get the fruit out of the pod. Still, it has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could make it a healthier snack than many other options available today.

Can Tamarind Be Used with the Keto Diet?

The goal of a keto diet is to remove most of the carbohydrates from your diet and to focus on proteins and healthy fats. When you look at the number of carbohydrates in just a small amount of tamarind, you will find that it’s higher than many would imagine.

This means that as tasty as it might be, it is not a good option for those who are on a keto diet. You could use lime juice, as discussed in the substitute section, but you would not be able to add any sugar to it to sweeten it.

Where Can You Buy Tamarind?

You can buy tamarind paste today in many grocery stores, but it may be more difficult to find in certain locations. If your grocery store and other local stores do not have tamarind paste or fresh tamarinds available, you can always order what you need online instead.

Can You Make Tamarind Paste?

Many people like to make everything from scratch, and that’s something that you can do with tamarind paste, as well. However, it will take a bit of time and work to do and to get right.

You will need to start with tamarind fruit that is still in the pods. After opening the pods and removing the fruit, you need to soften the fruit by simmering it for about 15 minutes in a saucepan. You will be adding four tablespoons of water for each quarter cup of fruit.

Once you remove it from the heat, you will use a potato masher or a similar tool to mast the fruit on the bottom of the pan. Then, you will strain the mixture to remove the seeds. You then have a paste that you can use. It takes time, and it can be messy.

While tamarind is a great option, you might not always have fresh tamarind or tamarind paste available. Even if you have fresh tamarind, you might not want to go through the trouble of making it on your own. fortunately, there are some substitutes for tamarind that you can try and that will work well in many different types of dishes

1. Pomegranate Molasses

This substitute is commonly used as a replacement for tamarind. The molasses is very thick and is made from pomegranate juice that has been reduced. You will find that the thickness, as well as the taste of the pomegranate molasses, is very similar to tamarind.

Advantages​​​​

One of the benefits of this substitute is that because it is not as thick as tamarind paste, it can provide more moisture, and it can be easier with which to work. Another benefit is that because they are so similar to one another, you can use an equal amount of molasses to tamarind paste. You don’t have to worry about making sure that you’ve added the right amount if you are simply following a recipe that calls for tamarind paste.

Disadvantages

One of the only potential disadvantages to the molasses is that you may not always be able to find it locally. Fortunately, you can always head to the internet to find some options that can be ordered and delivered right to your home.

Nutritional Breakdown

Pomegranate Molasses

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

58

Variable

Total Fat

0.2g

0%

Saturated Fat

0.1g

0%

Sodium

5.9mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

14g

5%

Dietary Fiber

0.1g

0%

Sugars

14g

NA


2. Mango Powder

Mango powder, which is sometimes called amchur powder, is another potential substitute that you can use. It can provide a similar taste to what you would typically get through tamarind paste, but it does have some issues.

Advantages

The biggest advantage of using mango powder is that it will provide a taste that has a similar amount of sourness to it that would be expected from tamarind.

Disadvantages

There are also disadvantages to using mango powder. It is not always easy to find in the grocery store, so this is another option that you might have to order online if you want to try it.

Another issue is that you will have to mix the powder with water before you can use it. It's important to make sure the consistency is right, depending on the dish you are making.

Nutritional Breakdown

Mango Powder

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

36

Variable

Total Fat

0.2g

0%

Saturated Fat

0.1g

0%

Sodium

0.6mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

9g

3%

Dietary Fiber

1g

4%

Sugars

8.1g

NA


3. Mango Chutney

Mango chutney can work very well as a replacement for tamarind paste. Of course, you need to think about the quality of the chutney that you are choosing as a replacement, or it will not work as well as you hope.

Advantages

One of the nice advantages is the ease of use. Once again, you will be able to replace it for the tamarind paste on a one for one basis.

It provides a nice taste that is similar to tamarind, but it will still be different enough to create its unique flavor. It also tends to be available in most grocery stores, and you will not have trouble finding many options online.

Disadvantages

The problems that could come from using the mango chutney are generally related to the quality and the style that you choose. You will always want to use a high-quality option.

However, you do not want to use a brand that has large chunks of mango in it. This is something that you will want to check before you buy. You can also choose to blend it before adding it to the dish if you would like.

Nutritional Breakdown

Mango Chutney

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

33

Variable

Total Fat

0.1g

0%

Saturated Fat

0g

0%

Sodium

7.2mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

8.3g

3%

Dietary Fiber

0.2g

1%

Sugars

7.9g

NA


4. Citrus Marmalade

Citrus marmalade can work as a nice substitute, as well. It has many benefits that make it worth trying if you are in a pinch, but you do need to make sure that you are using a high-quality marmalade, just like with the mango chutney.

Advantages

One of the most significant advantages is that citrus marmalade tends to be easy to find. Most grocery stores will have a range of options that you can use.

It also happens to be easy to use and to add to the dishes you are cooking. The texture is quite similar to tamarind paste, and you can typically use it as a one to one substitution when preparing a dish.

Disadvantages

You do need to be careful about the brand that you end up choosing, though. When you choose a lower-quality marmalade, it often means that it is going to be too sweet.

Remember, the reason the recipe calls for tamarind is so that it isn’t overly sweet. You might also find that it doesn’t have quite the flavor that you had hoped, but it will get close and is a reasonable substitute.

Nutritional Breakdown

Citrus Marmalade

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

49

Variable

Total Fat

0g

0%

Saturated Fat

0g

0%

Sodium

11mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

13g

4%

Dietary Fiber

0.1g

1%

Sugars

12g

NA


5. Lime Juice

Tamarind is often used because it helps to provide a slightly sour flavor to a range of different types of dishes. If you are without any of the other options on the list, and you are in a bind, you can consider using lime juice in the dish to help provide that sour flavor. However, there is an issue with this discussed below.

Advantages

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that most people will have easy access to lime juice or even fresh limes. They are readily available in most grocery stores today. Also, it does make it easy to get the sour taste that you need for your dish.

Disadvantages

Of course, in some cases, it might be too sour, which is the principal disadvantage. Fortunately, there is a way around this. You can add some brown sugar to the line juice, which will provide a sweeter flavor to it.

It won't match tamarind perfectly, but it can work. Of course, you will need to test to determine just how much sugar you need to add before it becomes too sweet.

Nutritional Breakdown

Lime Juice

Amount (1 tbsp)

% Recommended Daily Intake

Calories

3.8

Variable

Total Fat

0g

0%

Saturated Fat

0g

0%

Sodium

0.3mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

1.3g

0%

Dietary Fiber

0.1g

0%

Sugars

0.3g

NA


Bottom Line

Tamarind paste is a fantastic option that is used in a host of wonderful dishes that you might want to cook for yourself. Of course, there are those times when you simply don't have any tamarind paste in the house, and the store doesn't have any.

When you are in a bind, you will want to use one of the substitutes above. They can do a great job of giving you the taste and flavor that you want, and you might find that you enjoy some of them even more than the tamarind paste.

Bottom Line

Top Vegan Picks

Fortunately, you will not have to worry about any of the substitutes being a problem for vegans. All are vegan, so it will come down to what you have available in your home and which of the substitutes you prefer the taste of the most.

Top Healthy Picks

Tamarind is relatively healthy already, and you will find that the substitutes are not unhealthy options. However, when you are picking out brands of marmalade and chutney, it is a good idea to look at the sugar to see how much has been added.

Some of the brands add an unfortunate amount of sugar that makes the dishes you are making less healthy. Also, if you are adding brown sugar to the lime juice, you have to account for the amount of sugar you are using to determine whether it is healthy or not.

Top Convenient Picks

The most convenient pick is likely to be lime juice, with some brown sugar added. Most people will have at least the brown sugar at home. They might also have lime juice, fresh limes, or even a lime tree.

If they don't, they can head to most grocery stores and find what they need. The other options should be available at grocery stores, as well, but they might be more difficult to find.

Top Convincing Picks

There’s no real competition here. The pomegranate molasses has the taste that is closed to what you are going to expect from tamarind paste.

However, the other options in the list of substitutes do a very good job as well. It will come down to what you have available, and which one you and your family prefer the taste of the most.

Resources: 

https://www.verywellfit.com/benefits-of-tamarind-1087442

http://healthyhomemadedogtreats.com/can-dogs-eat-tamarind/

https://www.nutritionix.com/food/mango-powder

https://www.nutritionix.com/food/mango-chutney

https://www.nutritionix.com/food/marmalade

https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/tamarind.html

https://www.thespruceeats.com/tamarind-paste-overview-3217073

https://perfectketo.com/tamarind/

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