Can’t find a Tamarind paste? Not a problem, we have some great tamarind paste substitutes for you!
No doubt a lot of people can’t. Tamarind paste is not easily available to many because they’re an exotic ingredient.
Sometimes you might miss out on them in Walmart or in other local grocery shops, which happens a lot as other avid cooks may have the same plan for tamarind paste like you do. This is why knowing its alternatives will help you miss that tamarind flavors less.
So today, we’ll talk about different substitutes for tamarind paste that are readily available at the locals, some of which could be in your fridge as we speak right now.
Some of these substitutes include pomegranate molasses, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, brown sugar, rice vinegar, marmalade, amchur powder, and many more.
Table of Contents
What is Tamarind Paste?
Tamarind paste is a wonderful cooking ingredient gotten from the tropical tamarind fruit pulp of the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica).
This fruit pulp is edible and is quite a spice Rockstar in Indian, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines.
With its brown huge pod, the fruit resembles a vegetable containing small seeds and a brown pulp with a sweet-sour flavor, and sometimes a tangy-tart flavor — depending on the other ingredients it is mixed with.
For instance, sweet ingredients like sugar can take the sour edge off of tamarind Paste. Moreover, the taste is also affected based on how ripe the fruit is.
You can use it as a seasoning for meat, chutney, curry dishes, and pickled fish.
Some might even use it to make desserts, candy, as well as seafood dishes, which is quite popular in Thai.
Truth be told, a lot of professional chefs often pair it with coconut milk to reduce its sour taste.
Or add to marinades to soften thick cuts of beef before they are cooked, which explains why it is a primary ingredient of Worcestershire sauce.
Best Tamarind Paste Substitutes
The substitute we’re about to dissect below are alternatives that are very similar to Tamarind Paste in terms of flavor and texture.
Therefore, if you plan to whip up some authentic Thai or Indian curries or even flavorful Caribbean dishes, these can serve well if Tamarind Paste has gone in the scarce mode again.
1. Pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses will readily take the place of tamarind Paste in almost any recipe because its flavor combo (the sweet and sour along with an astringent undertone) mimics that of tamarind.
Although it is a bit thinner than tamarind paste, it does provide all the necessities as well as the moisture needed for tamarind dishes that a powdered substitute would lack.
It is made by gently reducing pomegranate juice with or without added sugar to a thick, intensely flavored syrup.
This Pomegranate molasses has a tangy sweet-sour flavor and can be used for both savory and sweet dishes.
You can stir it into your favorite hummus recipe; dissolve into drinks like iced tea, soda, and cocktails; make homemade sodas by stirring it into sparkling water; and use in salad dressings, meat, lamb, or poultry marinades, glazes, and barbecue sauces for a touch of sweetness and a ton of depth.
Lastly, If you seek tamarind paste for its acidity and sour flavor, pomegranate molasses would be the best swap. It helps to duplicate tamarind paste visually and in flavor.
And since it’s a product of Pomegranate juice, it comes with enormous health benefits.
It prevents Alzheimer’s as well as heart disease. It also improves digestion, controls blood pressure, and many more.
The only downside this ingredient may have is it isn’t as common as some of the other potential swaps on this list.
However, for the best results, use molasses in equal quantities as tamarind paste.
2. Lime juice + brown sugar
While tamarind Paste is scarce in the average supermarket and is better sought in specialty grocery stores, well, not for lime juice and brown sugar.
Combining these commonly used ingredients is a masterpiece that slays well in any dish that calls for tamarind Paste.
Think about it!
The lime juice helps impersonate that tartness and sour notes in tamarind paste. Besides, in some recipes, lime juice is all you may need.
Meanwhile, adding a bit of brown sugar will be the extra step that brings a hint of sweetness and dark hue, just like the tamarind paste does in any recipe.
You might not get precisely the same flavor as tamarind Paste, but in many dishes, you wouldn’t even notice the difference.
The mixture is ideal for both sweet and savory dishes.
But it’s crucial to properly dissolve the brown sugar when used in a cold mixture like salad dressing to avoid visible grainy texture in your meal.
And if you’re going for this substitute, do a straight substitution.
Use this lime and brown sugar in equal quantities. And 1 Tbsp of tamarind paste for 1 Tbsp of this backup mixture.
Read Also: White Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes
3. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce will decently substitute for tamarind, even if it may not seem like an ingredient with a ton of exotic flavor.
It has a distinct, powerful umami flavor and can be challenging to identify its complex list of ingredients simply by tasting it.
But since tamarind Paste is among its mixture (Sometimes), it’s a good starting point.
In terms of accessibility, this ingredient is a win. So finding a bottle of Worcestershire sauce in the condiment section of most grocery stores won’t be a big deal.
Although, you should be mindful of the consistency when substituting.
Tamarind Paste is, well, a paste. Worcestershire sauce is indeed a thick liquid — so you get the point?
You’ll want to treat this as a direct swap because it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
For every tablespoon of tamarind paste your dish calls for, you’d add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce all the way.
4. Rice vinegar + brown sugar
I’d kill for this concoction in an easy Chinese stir-fry sauce, as the rice vinegar brightens the flavors, while the brown sugar balances the saltiness, and toasted sesame seed oil makes it simply irresistible!!!
And it will do just well replacing it with tamarind Paste — you would understand me better if you’re a fan of cooking Asian cuisine at home.
A Rice vinegar in your pantry and brown sugar?
Wow! You are just one mixture of achieving the sour and sweet flavor that’ll allow you to finish your recipe without the tamarind paste.
You just have to mix the rice vinegar and brown sugar in equal parts, then do a 1:1 substitution.
Try to avoid using those cheap bottles products as they have a harsh flavor that will easily overwhelm your meal.
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Marmalade is a jelly, traditionally made from the juice and some cut peel of citrus, boil with sugar and water.
Judging by the appearance of a taste-off, you might be discouraged.
But Hey, this beautiful, tender, citrus-scented ingredient does almost the same thing as tamarind paste in terms of flavor notes in recipes.
In fact, it has quite some astringency that is comparable to the sourness in tamarind paste.
On top of that, they both share similar consistency, which makes marmalade ideal in sauces or dressing where a thinner option might compromise the final product.
You only need to use marmalade in equal quantities as tamarind paste.
6. Dried fruits and lemon juice
Dried fruits + lemon are another wonderful Tamarind paste substitute due to their close match when blended well.
The question is, how do you cook this concoction?
Well, it’s pretty easy than you thought.
Combining equal parts of chopped prunes, dates, apricots with a considerable amount of lemon juice.
Cover the bowl and allow the fruit to soften for 20-30 minutes before straining out the water. Finally, blend the fruit to have the same consistency and almost sticky texture as tamarind paste.
You can use raisins and lemon juice if you don’t have any prunes, dates, and apricots.
But if anything, uses a 1:1 ratio substitution.
7. Tamarind pulp
Tamarind pulp is the perfect Tamarind paste substitute — an incredibly accessible one that can be found in any grocery store.
The reason I’d vouch for tamarind pulp anytime is that tamarind paste is tamarind pulp with the seeds and fibers removed.
They virtually taste the same and are swap for similar uses. But This substitution requires a bit more effort.
The homemade version:
“Combine 2 tablespoon pulp with a half cup of warm water and let the pulp soak until soft. Rub the pulp through your hands to create a paste.
If your pulp has seeds, remove them at this stage. Once the pulp looks more like paste, strain out the water.”
Then swap for a 1:1 ratio.
So those are some of the best Tamarind paste substitutes you can try for similar taste and consistency.
However, I won’t fail to mention Mango chutney and Amchur powder, as they both can take the place of tamarind but have some drawbacks.
While Mango chutney contains both the sweetness and depth of flavor that you crave for tamarind paste in certain dishes, most chutneys have large pieces of fruit in them and are a bit of a chunky texture.
And this can be unpardonable in recipes where a smooth consistency is needed.
At this junction, I’d toss the chutney in the food processor to adjust the consistency.
Amchur powder, on the other hand, is powdered, which is quite different from the thick consistency of tamarind paste.
However, you can make paste-like tamarind by simply adding some water to the amchur powder —and it won’t change the flavor in your dish.
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