Tamarind sauce is a tasty dipping sauce served alongside fried favorites like pholourie, aloo pie and saheena.
Tamarind sauce, often called tamarind chutney, is made with tamarind pulp, sugar, salt and fresh seasonings. Each ingredient contributes a unique flavor – tangy, sour, sweet, salty, and spicy.
All those flavors in one condiment make tamarind sauce a favorite in T&T.
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What is in this tamarind sauce recipe
For this recipe, I used:
- whole tamarind pods
- hot water
- chadon beni leaves
- hot pepper like scotch bonnet
Optional ingredients can include:
- amchar masala powder
- geera (cumin) powder
- fresh seasoning like cilantro, thyme, parsley
- pepper sauce
Tamarind pods should be available at your local Caribbean and Asian supermarkets. You can also find tamarind on Amazon. Both shelled and unshelled versions are available there.
Chadon beni leaves should also be available in those Caribbean and Asian stores. But, if you can’t find any, then use cilantro leaves as a milder substitute.
Here’s a look at the ingredients I used for this recipe.
How to make tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney)
Making tamarind sauce involves removing the shell, adding warm water to the pulp and squeezing to soften up the pulp. Then, all the other ingredients are mixed in and adjusted to your preferred saltiness, sweetness, and spiciness.
Find more details and tips below.
Peel the tamarind
Tamarind has a very long shelf life – it can last in the fridge for years once it is kept cool and dry. If moisture gets into the tamarind, mold will form; so keep it airtight and dry.
Step 1: The tamarind shells are very brittle and can be easily cracked between your thumb and forefinger. Remove the shells including any broken pieces. There are thick fibers within the tamarind that should also be removed.
With the shells and fiber removed, you are left with long, segmented tamarind pulp. By the way, did you know tamarind is a legume, much like peas?
Step 2: Each segment contains a seed so break the pulp into the seed segments. You can also use already shelled tamarind pulp from Amazon and skip these steps.
Add hot water
The next step involves softening the tamarind pulp.
Step 3: To do this, add hot water to the seeds and pulp. Mix, squeeze and rub the seeds in the water for several minutes. These actions cause the sticky pulp around the tamarind seeds to soften and release their brown color and tangy flavor.
If a few seeds pop out of the pulp, you can remove and discard them. Leaving the seeds in is perfectly fine in the tamarind sauce. But, the seeds aren’t eaten, they are often sucked dry before being discarded.
Add other ingredients
With the pulp softened, it is time to prep and add the other ingredients.
Step 4: My mom made this tamarind sauce and she always insists on using the mortar and pestle to grind the garlic, chadon beni leaves and pepper together. She always says grinding the seasonings this way makes the flavors stronger and bolder. Honestly, I agree. The seasonings infuse into each other and add delicious flavors to any recipe.
Step 5: Add the ground seasonings (garlic, chadon beni leaves and pepper), salt and sugar to the softened tamarind pulp. Taste test and adjust the levels of salt, sugar and pepper in your sauce.
Serve immediately with your favorite fried treats like aloo pie, saheena, and more. Or bottle and refrigerate the sauce. It should last a week or so in the fridge.
What is tamarind good for
According to the USDA Food Database, tamarind is a good source of several minerals including copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It also has adequate levels of B vitamins, namely Vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
The benefits of tamarind are well documented in this 2019 study. Tamarind has shown antioxidant, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and blood glucose lowering benefits.
A much older study from 2006 found tamarind could lower total cholesterol, bad (LDL) cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure.
Isn’t tamarind something special?
Tamarind sauce recipe
Flavorful tamarind sauce recipe
- 12 tamarind pods
- 1 cup hot water
- 50 g sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 chadon beni leaves
- ¼ hot pepper
- Remove the tamarind shells and fibers.
- Separate the seed segments of the pulp.
- Add hot water to the pulp.
- Rub and squeeze the pulp in the water for a few minutes.
- Grind the garlic, chadon beni leaves and hot pepper together.
- Add the ground seasoning to the tamarind pulp and water.
- Mix in the sugar and salt.
- Taste test and adjust to your taste preferences.
- Serve as a dipping sauce alongside fried snacks or use as a topping.
- Bottle and refrigerate the remaining sauce.