If you've never tried it for yourself, tamarind puree may be your next favorite ingredient. It's perfect for marinating meat and is a traditional ingredient in Indian curry. But if you want to cook your own traditional Indian fare, you may be looking for a good tamarind puree substitute.
The best option that can be found in most grocery stores is mango chutney. It offers the same sweet and tangy flavor while balancing it with spicy notes that match the original quite well. If you're looking for other tamarind puree alternatives, try another one of those listed here.
Table of Contents
Best Tamarind Puree Substitutes
1. Mango Chutney
If you haven't had mango chutney before, think of it as mango jam with spices mixed in. This makes it a great pairing for many Indian dishes. While its flavor is a little different than tamarind, it's probably the closest you can get with a single, off-the-shelf ingredient.
Best of all, mango chutney has the same thick, sticky texture as tamarind paste. That means you can substitute it at a 1:1 ratio for pretty much any dish. If you want to match the flavor even more closely, try adding a dash of lime juice too.
What lime brings to the party is a healthy dose of tangy flavor. We like this a little better than lemon, though you could use whichever you happen to have on hand. All you need is a small squeeze for every tablespoon of tamarind paste you're substituting for.
If you want to make an even closer match, try zesting your citrus first. The peel will add another layer of complexity, making it a bit more similar to tamarind paste.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another alternative to lime juice that we like as a quick and convenient solution. It might not have any peel to add, but it has its own fruity character that is a good match for tamarind paste. You can substitute it for tamarind paste in a 1:2 ratio.
One factor to keep in mind when using this tamarind paste alternative is moisture content. Anything you add it to will take on a bit more moisture, so you'll need to compensate with cornstarch or other ingredients.
4. Worcestershire Sauce
Tamarind puree has big and bold flavors, so it makes sense to substitute it with another high-profile ingredient. Worcestershire brings some of the same flavors as tamarind puree, along with a few others that are nowhere near the mark. You'll need to decide for yourself whether it's a good match for your dish.
You might be surprised if you take a look at the ingredients in your bottle of Worcestershire sauce. Some varieties even contain tamarind sauce in the recipe!
5. Orange Marmalade
Orange marmalade has a lot in common with mango chutney, so it makes sense that it also makes a good tamarind substitute. While it doesn't have the same spicy or smoky notes, it may be more common in some pantries, which is why we listed it. If you want to bring its flavor a bit closer, you can add a bit of cinnamon or clove as well.
The other advantage of orange marmalade is that it has the same consistency as tamarind paste. So feel free to swap it out without worrying about your recipe.
6. Lemons and Brown Sugar
The best thing about this tamarind puree alternative is that most kitchens have it on hand. Simply combine the two in a small dish to make a thin syrup, then use it in your cooking. The mixture won't have all the complex, smoky notes of tamarind, but it will be just as sweet and tangy.
The lemon and brown sugar mixture will be a bit thinner than your average tamarind paste, though you can substitute it at a 1:1 ratio in most cases.
7. Fruit Syrup
There are a lot of different off-the-shelf products that can work here, like fruit-flavored pancake syrup or the juice from packaged fruit containers. Really, any combination of fruit and sugar will replicate at least some of tamarind's unique charm. Depending on what you have on hand, you may want to add in a bit of citrus or vinegar to help balance out the flavor.
A good mixture can be a quarter cup of fruit syrup mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice. If you want, you can also add a bit of clove to complete the flavor profile.
While using tamarind puree as required by the recipe will create the right mix of flavor and texture for your dish, there are times when it's not available. So, to help you make your dish, here's a list of the best tamarind puree substitutes that you can use.
|Mango Chutney||Most chutneys have a spice element to balance the tang, making them a close match to tamarind puree.|
|Lime||While it lacks complexity, it can add a fruity, sour note in a pinch.|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||While any vinegar can add tang, apple cider vinegar has a bit more character to it.|
|Worcestershire Sauce||It has spicy and savory notes, unlike tamarind puree, but it can work well in some dishes.|
|Orange Marmalade||Sweeter and less tangy than tamarind puree, and is best paired with some vinegar or citrus.|
|Lemon and Brown Sugar||A good way to get a rough approximation with readily available ingredients.|
|Fruit Syrup||As long as it's balanced by some acid, this can make for a close match to tamarind.|
Tamarind has a unique taste all its own, with a rich blend of sour, sweet, and sticky notes. You might even detect a hint of smoky flavor in it. All of the above make it a good addition to dishes that don't mind a bit of complexity.
Tamarind puree and paste are usually just different names for the same product. However, be careful, as there is a wide range of different tamarind products out there that aren't all interchangeable. It can come whole, dried, and packed into a block or be squeezed to make tamarind juice.
Leave a Reply