The bright, tart and sweet flavour of tamarind concentrate, also called paste, appears in many Thai and Indian dishes. You can purchase tamarind concentrate in blocks at international markets, but in a pinch, you can substitute more common ingredients. Though the flavour won't be exactly the same, a proper tamarind substitute should contain the same sweet and sour components.
The sour flavour of tamarind concentrate resembles the mouth-puckering taste of citrus fruits. Combine lemon or lime juice with brown sugar to replace 1/6 of the amount of tamarind concentrate called for in your recipe. For instance, use 2 tbsp of lemon juice with 1 tbsp of brown sugar to replace 1 tsp of tamarind concentrate. Adjust the amount of sugar based on your personal preference for sweetness in the dish.
Amchoor powder from unripened mangoes tastes similarly tart. Available in Indian grocery stores, amchoor powder is a common ingredient in northern Indian dishes. Use 50 per cent more amchoor powder to replace tamarind concentrate. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 tbsp of tamarind concentrate, use 1 1/2 tbsp of amchoor powder.
Worcestershire sauce gets its tangy flavour from tamarind so this condiment makes a natural substitute for tamarind paste. Look for a brand of Worcestershire sauce that lists real tamarind in the ingredients; some low-quality brands might skimp on this flavouring. Each 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce replaces 1 tbsp of tamarind concentrate.
Use the sweetness of dried fruits combined with lemon juice to create a sweet and tangy replacement for tamarind concentrate with a texture the same as tamarind paste. Purée equal parts of pitted prunes, dried apricots, lemon juice and chopped dates in a food processor, and use 1 tbsp of this mixture to replace 1 tbsp of tamarind concentrate in your recipes.
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- The Kitchn; Seeking Suggestion: Substitutes for Tamarind in Pad Thai; Emma Christensen; November 2010
- Kate's Global Kitchen; Tropical Fruits Month: Tangy Tamarind; Kate Heyhoe; 2000
- The Cook's Thesaurus: Indian Condiments and Sauces
- Gourmet Sleuth: Tamarind Paste
- Food.com: Kitchen Dictionary: Amchoor Powder