Tamarind is a common fruit in Asian cuisine. It can give your food a particular flavor and make it taste slightly tart but also sweet. You will find it in supermarkets as a paste and even as a syrup. You don’t need to use a lot of it since tamarind has a strong taste.
However, how can you save your recipe if you are missing this key ingredient? The good news is that there are some very good substitutes for Tamarind.
You can replace tamarind with a combination of lemon and sugar or lime and sugar. But this is not the only option you have. Keep reading to find the best tamarind substitute for your recipe.
Substitutes for Tamarind
The next substitutes for tamarind can be used in the quantities you want. Chances are that you will find some of them to be tastier than others. Thus, it will come down to your preferences which one you will choose for your recipe.
1. Lime juice and sugar
Lime juice mixed with sugar and honey can give your food a similar taste to the one of tamarind. This combination will give you the sour and sweet mix you need for your recipe. It is great for desserts and main dishes, however, you can use lime juice and sugar in salad dressings too!
To make this combination you will have to use one part lime juice with one part honey or sugar. Taste your mix as you prepare it to decide if it is sweet or sour enough and you got the balance you wanted.
2. Lemon juice and sugar
If you don’t find lime juice or limes, you can always use lemon. Lemons and lemon juice are fairly common to find in most local stores. Just like with the lime juice and sugar combo, you can use one part lemon juice and one part sugar or honey.
You can even use any other sweetener you prefer as long as it offers you the taste you like. Replace tamarind with the lemon juice and sugar combo in different recipes such as cakes, salad dressings, or even different sauces.
3. Mango powder or syrup
Mango powder or mango syrup might not be one of the first substitutes for tamarind but it is definitely a decent choice. It also provides the sweet and tart taste that tamarind brings to your food but with less intensity.
This powder also known as amchoor might be a bit more difficult to find in stores but if you do get your hands on it, it is worth giving it a try.
You can use the same amount of mango powder as you would use tamarind. It goes the same for mango syrup. If you want a more tart taste, you might have to use more of this substitute but it will be all about your preferences.
4. Pomegranate syrup
Pomegranate syrup or molasses can add a delicious flavor to your food and it can be used instead of tamarind successfully as well.
You can find it with sugar added or without sugar. Those without sugar will be tarter and less sweet since all their sweetness come from the fruit. If you select a pomegranate syrup with sugar in it you can add the same amount of it as you would add tamarind.
5. Worcestershire sauce
Using Worcestershire sauce instead of tamarind might come as a surprise but on a closer look, you will notice that this substitute can complement your food perfectly.
This sauce often comes with tamarind as one of its ingredients but the recipes vary and so does the tamarind concentration you will find.
You can use the same amount of Worcestershire sauce as you would use regular tamarind. Your food will taste slightly different as this sauce comes with other ingredients as well.
But overall, you will obtain a similar flavor that you and your family will enjoy. Use this substitute in cooked dishes or salads.
6. Orange juice with sugar
Another substitute for tamarind can be orange juice, sugar, honey, or another sweetener. You can use it in the same way you would use lemon juice or lime juice.
It is important to expect a sweeter taste. Oranges tend to have a higher level of sugar than limes or lemons. This substitute goes great in cold dishes such as salads or desserts.
To prepare it, combine one part of orange juice with one part of sugar or honey. Use the same amount you would use tamarind.
7. Raspberry syrup
Raspberries have a natural acidity as well as natural sweetness. The best part? You can find raspberry syrup fairly easily on the market with different sugar concentrations.
This is a good tamarind substitute in different recipes from desserts to main meals to and salads. But if you find this syrup to be too sweet, you can mix it with a teaspoon of vinegar.
8. Strawberry syrup
Strawberries, just like raspberries will provide a great combination of tart taste and sweet taste to your dishes. You can use them in the same ratio as if you used tamarind. However, make sure to taste your food as you prepare it.
If you use this syrup in main meals, you might not want the final dish to be too sweet so you can use less of it. But, if you use raspberry syrup in desserts, you can add as much as you like.
9. Blueberry syrup
Blueberry syrup is very concentrated, so it usually comes with a sugar concentration. Thus, you get both the tartness and sweetness you would get from tamarind. The best part? It’s easily accessible in supermarkets.
The flavor of blueberries can be stronger than you expect so taste your syrup before using it to be sure it is what you want for your recipe. Blueberry syrup will perform great instead of tamarind in salad dressings, glazes, desserts, and even cooked dishes.
10. Ginger and honey
A less common mix that can replace tamarind is ginger powder and honey. It is important to use honey, not sugar in this combination as it mixes better with the ginger.
You can use 1 part ginger powder with 1 part honey and add the mix instead of tamarind to your food, by respecting the quantities.
Ginger has a strong taste that goes great with the sweetness of the honey. Therefore, you might even prefer this mix in your future recipes. You can use it for salads, desserts, and even Asian dishes.
What is the Flavor of Tamarind?
Tamarind brings a complex flavor to your recipes. Depending on how ripped the fruit is, it can be sweeter and tarter or less intense.
As a general rule, you will notice that tamarind brings a tangy flavor, giving a very specific taste to food. This is why you will have to watch the amount you use as perhaps you don’t want your food to have a strong tamarind flavor.
How Do You Make Tamarind?
To make tamarind at home, you will need to get the tamarind tree fruits. They are similar to bean pods that contain seeds and pulp.
If you purchase them in this state you will have to get the pods out of the peel and separate the seeds from the pulp. If the fruits are ripe you can do that easily by hand.
The pulp around the seeds has a creamy texture already. Thus, you can just squeeze it in a bowl and mix it until you get a paste. No other ingredients are needed but how ripped the fruit is will make all the difference.
Try these tamarind substitutes and you will not regret your choice. You might discover that some of them add a better flavor to your foods and you could decide to stick to the substitutes for the future as well.
Tamarind paste can be found in stores that have an Indian aisle or an Asian aisle. However, if you are in Europe, you might struggle to find it, so these replacements are very welcomed.