If you’ve been using tamarind paste from a jar from cooking, let me try to convince you to never buy one of those again! I used to use those jars regularly myself because it was the most convenient thing, but I don’t know if the products became worse or my standards became higher, but I eventually I became more and more dissatisfied with the quality of premade pastes. They started to taste really bland and diluted to me.
So I started making it from tamarind pulp. Tamarind pulp is that dark brown brick labelled simply as “Tamarind.” You can find them at many Asian grocery stores. The tamarind paste that I make from the pulp has consistently been more flavourful and more sour, and sour is exactly what you want cooking tamarind to be!
I also started making it in large amounts, then cook it and store in mason jars which will last several months in the fridge. This way, I only have to go through the process a couple of times a year.
What is tamarind?
For this basic question I’m going to refer you to my Ultimate Guide to Tamarind video. It covers everything you need to know including the difference between cooking VS eating tamarind. I also show you what tamarind looks like in its original pod!
For more videos on other Thai ingredients
Check out my Thai Ingredient Playlist where I have informational videos about the most important ingredients in Thai cuisine.
Recipes with Tamarind
Wanna know what to do with the tamarind you’ve just made? Simply put “tamarind” in the search bar above and all the recipes with tamarind will show up! Enjoy!
1/2 lb (225g) of tamarind pulp, seedless (one block is usually 1 lb)
2 1/2 cups water
Large mixing bowl
A sieve, the coarser the better
Latex gloves, optional
Non-reactive pot (Tamarind is highly acidic and will react with metals such as cast iron and aluminum. Stick with stainless steel pots or enameled cast iron for this.)
Glass jars with a sealing lid (mason jars), or any other heat proof container that seals well
Tear the tamarind pulp into small chunks and place into a large mixing bowl.
Heat 2 cups of water until hot, it can be boiled, but if it’s steaming it’s hot enough.
Pour the hot water over tamarind pulp and let it sit until cool enough to handle, at least 30 minutes. This step can be done many hours in advance.
Once the water is cool enough to handle, massage the pulp with your hand (wear a glove if you wish) until all the pulp is released from the fibers and dissolved into the water. Feel the fibers with your hands and there shouldn’t be any soft pulp left on it; it should just feel like fibers.
Once done, strain the tamarind through a sieve into a non-reactive pot, pushing the liquid through with your hands.
Once all the liquid has passed through, use no more than 1/2 cup of water to “rinse” the remaining fibers so you can extract any tamarind that’s caught up in there.
Bring the tamarind paste to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
Once boiled, pour the tamarind into clean glass jars and close the lid while still hot.
Let cool to room temp the store in the fridge. These will last at least 6 months in the fridge, and probably even longer.
If you want to make them shelf-stable, you can “can” them like you would jars of jam.