Tamarind paste is very popular in Asian cuisine and it became a tasty ingredient for other cuisines as well. It is produced from fruits that come from the tamarind tree. And it has a taste that combines the sour flavor with the sweet and citrusy one.
However, as tasty as this paste is, you might not be able to find it everywhere, unless you have an Asian market nearby. If you can’t find this delicious ingredient, you can still put together your favorite recipes by using one of the substitutes you will find in this guide!
The best substitutes for tamarind paste include Worcestershire sauce, a mix of lime juice and brown sugar, pomegranate molasses, dried fruits, lemon juice, or simply rice vinegar.
If you want to find out more about these alternatives and discover many others, keep reading!
Best Substitutes For Tamarind Paste
Use the following substitutes according to your preferences but note that you might not find all of them at your grocery store.
1. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is most likely one of the best substitutes for tamarind paste.
Few people know that some recipes of Worcestershire sauce actually include tamarind paste. Using this sauce as a substitute by itself can work great in recipes that contain meat, especially beef.
Use it in the same ratio. For a more similar taste, mix 3 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce with 2 tbsp of water, 3 tbsp of lemon juice, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of tomato paste.
2. Lime Juice And Brown Sugar Mix
Another great substitute for tamarind paste is a combination of lime juice and brown sugar. If you don’t have lime juice you can try this mix with lemon juice but it will be less bitter.
The combination between the tart taste of lime and the sweetness of brown sugar creates a similar flavor to the tamarind paste.
You can use the lime juice and brown sugar in equal quantities. Also, replace the tamarind paste in your recipe with the same ratio of this mixture.
3. Pomegranate Molasses
If you can find pomegranate molasses, you can use it instead of tamarind paste successfully in any dish and even in sauces or toppings.
The flavor is fairly similar. You might even enjoy the fruity taste of this alternative more than the tamarind paste itself. Pomegranate molasses is a dark brown syrup that is similar to tamarind paste even in appearance.
You can use this substitute in an equal ratio and you will most likely love the end result.
4. Dried Fruits And Lemon Juice Mix
An interesting substitute is a mixture of dried fruits and lemon juice.
All you have to do is combine equal parts of dried fruits like apricots, prunes, and dates with lemon juice. Add this mixture to a bowl of water and give it up to 30 minutes for the fruits to get soft. Finally, drain the fruits and blend them.
Use the paste you obtain in the same way you would use tamarind paste and maintain the same ratio as well.
5. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar can save you as well when you don’t have tamarind paste for your ideal recipe. Plus, rice vinegar is very easy to find as well and it tends to come at reasonable prices.
You can use rice vinegar by itself but if you want the sweetness of the tamarind paste, we recommend adding some sugar to it. Taste the rice vinegar and add as much sugar as you like depending on the sweetness level you want to achieve.
Use one tablespoon of this substitute for one tablespoon of tamarind paste and you will save your recipe with no hassle.
6. Amchur Powder
This powder is another substitute that might not be as easy to find as the rest of the alternatives in this guide. However, it is definitely worth a try if you can get it.
This powder is made of unripened mangos that have both a sweetness and a bitter taste which makes the powder a great substitute for tamarind paste.
If you want to use this substitute, make sure you mix one part of powder with one part of water to obtain a closer texture and taste to the tamarind paste.
Marmalade, particularly the citrus one, can provide a similar taste to the tamarind paste as long as you use it in the right ratio.
You can add the same quantity of this substitute to replace the tamarind paste in any dish and even enrich its flavor with either sugar or lime juice.
Make sure to taste the marmalade before you use it so you can know exactly how much to add or if you need to modify its flavor.
Use this alternative in any dishes and even in toppings that require tamarind paste and you will not regret it.
8. Tamarind Pulp
If you have access to an Asian market, you might be able to find tamarind pulp instead of tamarind paste. All you will have to do before you add this substitute to your recipe is remove the seeds and blend the pulp.
Add 2 tablespoons of this pulp into 1/4 cup of water. Give it 30 minutes to soften before you add it to your recipe. Replace tamarind paste with tamarind pulp in equal ratios for a similar flavor.
This substitute is great for meat dishes as well as different sauces and even marinates.
9. Mango Chutney
Mango chutney can be a great alternative to tamarind paste as well. Make sure you choose a chutney that doesn’t have a lot of sweetness as you still want a tart taste as well.
You can start by using an equal ratio of mango chutney but depending on how you like its taste you can add more or less than you would use tamarind paste.
You can blend the mango chutney to obtain a smoother paste as some of these products have mango chunks in them.
10. White Wine Vinegar
Vinegar of any kind but white one especially can save your dish if you have no tamarind paste in your kitchen. Make sure to mix it with sugar according to your taste or even honey if you want the sweetness of the tamarind paste in this alternative.
Use your vinegar in the ratio you like instead of tamarind paste. We recommend you use an equal ratio, to begin with, and you can always add more.
Kokum is fairly common in India but you might have trouble finding this substitute somewhere else. This substitute is an Indian fruit that is often used as a souring ingredient in many recipes.
Thanks to its flavor, this fruit can replace the tamarind pate successfully so if you find it you should give it a try. Soak the kokum in water before you add it to your dish. Ideally, you can substitute in equal ratios.
However, the taste of kokum is more sour compared to tamarind paste so you should try it plain before you decide how much you add to your meat recipes or vegetable ones as it goes great in both types of dishes.
12. Kachri Powder
Kachri powder comes also from India. It is made from kachri. This is a vegetable that is popular in many parts of India and widely used in Indian cuisine.
This powder has a stronger taste compared to tamarind paste so make sure you add only a pinch of it to your dish as it can go a long way.
13. Fish Sauce
Just like Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce can substitute for tamarind paste.
However, you will have to add it to your dish considering that it will bring a strong taste of fish to it. The fish sauce comes in different recipes depending on the brand.
Unfortunately, this substitute doesn’t have the sweetness of the tamarind sauce. Thus, you want to add either honey or brown sugar to it if you are looking for a fairly similar flavor.
Use it in sauces and toppings but mostly in vegetable dishes as it will not go great with all types of meat.
14. Soy Sauce And Honey
Soy sauce and honey can help you obtain a similar taste to the tamarind paste, even if it is saltier than other substitutes. You can even out the salt in your dish by skipping any extra salt since the soy sauce is rich in this seasoning.
Mix one tablespoon of soy sauce with one tablespoon of honey. Then, add it in the same ratio with tamarind paste to enrich the taste of your dish. Use this substitute in any recipe that calls for tamarind paste.
15. Maple Syrup And Lime Juice
Similar to the lime juice and brown sugar, the mix of maple syrup and lime juice can help you cook your dish without tamarind paste. Considering the fact that maple syrup has a thick texture, you will obtain a similar consistency to your dish as well.
Combine equal parts of maple syrup and lime juice and add it in equal ratio with tamarind paste to your recipe. This substitute will work great in beef dishes as well as in a curry recipe.
Ketchup can be a great substitute for tamarind paste in pad thai but also in other dishes, especially those based on meat. Note that ketchup has a different flavor and a strong tomato taste that you will not find in tamarind paste.
Even so, you can substitute your tamarind paste with ketchup in an equal ratio.
Tamarind Paste Substitute Pad Thai
Ketchup can successfully replace tamarind paste in pad thai. However, you can prepare a much better substitute for this tasty recipe.
Mix 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1/4 cup (50 mL) tomato paste, 2 tbsp (30 mL) Worcestershire, 2 tbsp (30 mL) rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, 1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar, and 1 tbsp (15 mL) water.
Add this mixture instead of tamarind paste to your recipe and you will love the way your pad thai turns out!
Homemade Tamarind Paste Recipe
Making tamarind paste is not complicated if you have tamarind fruit.
Remove the outer shell of your tamarind fruit and place it in a bowl. Add boiling water over the tamarind until it covers the fruit. Add a lid or a plastic wrap and let it sit for up to 45 minutes.
After this time passes, take the tamarind fruit out and pass it through a mesh sieve into a different bowl.
By doing so, you will eliminate the fibrous parts of the pulp and get a smooth paste that has the thickness of ketchup. You can store the tamarind paste in the fridge for up to two months.
Best Recipe With Tamarind Paste And The Ideal Substitute
One of the famous recipes that use tamarind is Tamarind Chicken Curry.
For this dish, you will need 2 tbs of ghee, 1 brown onion, chopped, 5 garlic cloves, 1 fresh red chili chopped, 1-inch fresh ginger grated, 2 tbsp of tamarind paste, 3 tsp of curry powder, 1 tsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 5 tomatoes, 16 fresh curry leaves, 1 pound of chicken fillets quartered, 1/2 cup of water.
Add in a pan the ghee with onion, tomato, garlic, chili, and seasonings, and cook for ten minutes. Blend this mix along with the ginger, tamarind paste, curry powder, and sugar until you obtain a smooth consistency.
Heat up the remaining ghee along with cumin and curry leaves for one minute before you add the tomato mixture. Cook this mix for 4 minutes before you add the chicken. Let it cook entirely until the chicken is made the way you like it and stir occasionally.
Let it all cool down and serve it along with your favorite drink!
If you want to make this recipe but you don’t have tamarind paste, you can use Worcestershire sauce in the same ratio and follow the recipe without any modifications.
As unique and tasty as tamarind paste is, you can still substitute it with some of the alternatives in this guide. Allow your creativity to express itself in the kitchen and you will be amazed by how delicious your dish turns out!