A Guide To Tamarind Paste And Tamarind Water

Tamarind is a fruit related to peanuts and chickpeas. The brown-red fleshy pulp has a sticky, date-like consistency with distinctively tart flavour and sweet date aroma. The pods grow on trees which are native to tropical Africa, but are now also cultivated around the world in tropical climates such as India and Central America.

What is tamarind pulp?

Tamarind pulp is made from the citrussy flesh inside the tamarind pod - which grow on trees like the image above.


What is tamarind paste?

Tamarind paste is made by diluting tamarind pulp with water, into a pre-mixed solution ready for cooking. The amount the tamarind pulp is diluted varies between brands, so when cooking from a recipe add the paste slowly and taste as you go because the chef may be using a different brand. It is also known as tamarind concentrate or ‘cooking tamarind’ and is packaged in small plastic tubs similar to peanut butter. 


Should I use tamarind paste or tamarind pulp?

Tamarind pulp is rarely used in cooking unless diluted. Instead it is commonly used to make tamarind water before adding it to a recipe. Tamarind paste is much more convenient and quicker to use as you can easily spoon it from the jar directly into your dish. However, if tamarind is the main flavour in your dish, homemade tamarind water has a much fresher taste.


What is tamarind used for?

Tamarind is used throughout southeast Asia in curries, Indian cuisine and even in a Mexican drink called Agua de Tamarindo. Try cooking with tamarind in these recipes:


What is tamarind water and how to make it?

Tamarind water is made by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling water before straining through a sieve and storing the liquid. Many recipe books will direct you to make your own tamarind water, to ensure that you are using the same concentration of tamarind as the chef. Read below to learn how to make it step-by-step.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate the same thing?

Yes. Normally tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate are the same product. We sell a great tamarind paste here.

What can I use instead of tamarind paste?

Some good alternatives to tamarind paste are pomegranate molasses, amchoor powder, rice vinegar or simply a blend of lime juice and brown sugar.


If you like cooking with tamarind, shop for southeast Asian ingredients here 


Tamarind Water Recipe

tamarind water strained through a sieve

Sieved tamarind water, with the seeds and pulp left behind in the sieve 

 Tamarind water ingredients Serves: 12


Method for making tamarind water

  1. Pour boiling water over the tamarind pulp, and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Break the pulp up with a fork, and strain the mixture into a bowl using a sieve. Press as much pulp through as possible using a spoon, and scrape any tamarind puree from the underside of the sieve into the bowl.
  2. The tamarind water will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen. If freezing, pour into an ice cube tray for easy-to-use portions.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2022




2 comments

  • Almost on a celestial par with making a good fresh tomato sauce is, for me, the soothing preparation of date and tamarind paste. I got the idea to do it while reading ‘The Settler’s Cookbook’ by Yasmin Alibahai-Brown. Knowing I had good local suppliers of both dates and fresh tamarind, I had to try it, despite the fact I didn’t have a clue what I would eat it with. Now I have a bit more of a clue! It is versatile for sure, and can even liven up a pomodoro that needs it.

    Anita McCullough on

  • Complete amateur cook, made a little Chinese last night and used tamarind concentrate instead of tamarind juice; didn’t ruin meal but too strong a flavour. I hate when you put a simple question into the internet and get numerous answers you were not looking for. But here – after glimpsing at the usual 20 unwanted answers – I found this one. Exactly what I wanted and in plain English. Wonderful and thank you.

    Raymond Dempster on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Latest Articles & Recipes

  • The Buyer’s Guide to 00 Flour

    The Buyer’s Guide to 00 Flour

    May 23rd, 2022
  • The Buyer’s Guide to Coffee and Cocktail Syrups

    The Buyer’s Guide to Coffee and Cocktail Syrups

    May 19th, 2022
  • The Buyer's Guide to Outdoor Plates

    The Buyer's Guide to Outdoor Plates

    May 17th, 2022