Tamarind paste is a staple for Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cooking.
It has a distinctive sour and citrusy flavor with an added smoky and caramel profile. Just a little bit of this paste makes meals such as Beef Rendang, Pad Thai, and others taste delicious.
Its sour and citrusy taste can also help balance out very spicy curries and other dishes too.
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While it is relatively easy to find at Asian stores or in the Asian sections of the supermarket, there may be a case when you have run out or don’t have it and need Tamarind paste to prepare a specific dish.
Read on to find out which are the best Tamarind paste substitutes.
What are the best tamarind paste substitutes?
Our top recommendation is to use Worcestershire sauce mixed with lemon juice, water, tomato paste, and brown sugar.
You can experiment with a mixture of lime juice, brown sugar or use pomegranate molasses instead.
Here are the best replacements for Tamarind paste:
1. Worcestershire sauce mixture
Some recipes for homemade Worcestershire sauce include tamarind paste.
For the best results, when using Worcestershire sauce as a substitute for tamarind, you will need to combine it with other ingredients, as follows:
- Worcestershire sauce – 3 tablespoons
- Water – 2 tablespoons
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – 3 tablespoons (you can replace it with lime juice or apple cider vinegar)
- Brown sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Tomato paste – ½ cup
2. Pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses are the next best alternative for tamarind paste, thanks to its thick and dark syrupy texture and sour and sweet taste.
Use as much molasses as the recipe calls for tamarind paste for the best results.
3. Lime juice and brown sugar
This is one of the easiest and most accessible replacements for tamarind paste. Use equal quantities of lime juice with dissolved brown sugar in it.
The mixture will add that tart and sweet taste that resembles the flavor profile of tamarind to just about any dish.
4. Dried fruit and lemon juice
You can also mix up other fruits such as chopped dates, prunes, or apricots for added sweetness or replace the lime juice with lemon juice.
Combine the chopped fruits with the juice in a bowl and let them soften for about 30 minutes for the best results. Strain the water out and blend the soft fruits into a paste.
Use it in equal quantities as you would the tamarind paste for prepping your recipe.
5. Rice vinegar
Rice vinegar is another suitable alternative for tamarind paste. Mix the rice vinegar (or leftover white wine) with brown sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Use the mixture in the same quantities as required for the tamarind paste for the dish you are making.
6. Citrusy marmalade
Citrusy marmalade resembles the texture and, in some cases, tamarind paste’s sweet and bitter taste. Use equal quantities of the citrusy marmalade as the recipe calls for the tamarind paste.
7. Amchur powder
This northern Indian seasoning is made of unripe mangoes. It adds an acidic, sour, and fruity flavor to the dishes. This makes it quite similar to tamarind paste.
It is one of the best tamarind alternatives, especially if you are preparing an Indian dish.
To get the best results, mix the amchur powder in water to make a paste. Then add it in the same quantities as you would use the tamarind paste to the meal.
8. Tamarind pulp
If you can get your hands on some tamarind pulp, then you can make your homemade tamarind paste.
Remove any seeds from the pulp, and mix two tablespoons with ½ cup of warm water. Soak it for 30 minutes. Then mix it until you get a paste-like substance, strain the water out with a sieve, and use it as a tamarind paste for your recipe.
It is an excellent substitute for tamarind paste when preparing dishes like Pad Thai.
Are tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate the same thing?
While the two are similar, tamarind concentrate has a more intense color and is less fruity than tamarind paste.
When using the concentrate as a replacement for the paste, use smaller quantities than the recipe requires.
What is the best tamarind paste replacement for Pad Thai or Sambar?
Our top recommendation is to prepare the Worcestershire-based tamarind paste substitute.
It includes lemon juice, water, brown sugar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.
You can store any leftovers from the mixture in the fridge for up to 7 days.
While tamarind paste provides the dishes with a unique tart and sweet flavor, it can be replaced with alternative products and easy-to-make mixes instead.
Most of our top recommendations involve products and ingredients you already likely have in your pantry or fridge, such as lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.
You can use any of the alternative products mentioned above as a replacement, or go ahead and buy some from your local store or order some authentic tamarind paste online instead.