What can I substitute for Tamarind paste?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for tamarind paste”. 

Read on to know about the best substitutes of tamarind paste that gives the same taste, flavour, and almost the same aroma to the food as tamarind paste.

What can I substitute for Tamarind paste?

Tamarind paste can be best substituted with pomegranate molasses, lime juice and brown sugar, dried fruit and lemon juice, rice vinegar, amchur powder, marmalade and also tamarind pulp.

The tamarind production is relatively of greater size in India. As stated by the spice board of India, the tamarind area was 74.20 (000’ ha), production was 309.44 (000’ MT) and the productivity was 4.0 (MT/ha) in 2017-18. About 258.70 (000’MT) to 272.85 (000’MT) of tamarind is allotted for value-added products to be processed, engaging much labor in India. Even though traditional processing is widespread, its commercial uses are unknown and underdeveloped (1).  

Tamarind paste

Tamarind paste is used in cooking for adding sweet, sour, and citrus flavour to the dish. You can elevate your well-being by making it an essential part of your diet. The tamarind tree is very famous among natives of Pakistan and India. Despite the benefits of tamarind in cooking, it is also beneficial to health.

Tamarind preparations are used to relieve fevers, sore throat, rheumatism, inflammation and sunstroke. Tamarind pulp contains non-starch polysaccharides, which contribute to its high dietary fiber content (5.1 g/100 g fruit pulp). They bind with bile to help flush waste through the colon, decreasing the chances of it sticking around, thus reducing chances of colon cancer. Prized for its sweet-and-sour flavour, tamarind (also known as ukwaju in Swahili) is used to make juice and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 100 g of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper and pyridoxine (3).

Substitutes of tamarind paste:

if you don’t have tamarind paste for your dish then you can add substitutes of tamarind paste in your dish. Here are few substitutes mentioned below:

Pomegranate molasses:

Pomegranate molasses can be used as a substitute for tamarind paste. Its consistency is thick, and it is of dark colour that is produced from pomegranate juice. Just like tamarind paste, it gives a sweet and sour flavour. 

Mostly it is preferred in India and Pakistan. You can get antioxidants from pomegranate molasses. There is a low level of sugar, calcium, and iron in pomegranate molasses.

It is also cholesterol-free and has no fats. That’s why this can be the substitute for tamarind paste as it is beneficial for flavour and health as well.

Pomegranate molasse is a thick syrup made from cooked-down pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) juice, which is a slightly astringent, sweet-sour condiment that is deep and dark (and slightly ruby) in color. Production of pomegranate molasses typically includes cleaning and crushing of pomegranates, extraction, filtration, clarification and concentration of pomegranate juice. Commercial pomegranate molasses are also called pomegranate sour. Pomegranate molasses have had various applications as a flavoring agent, a salad dressing or soft drink ingredient. The sweetness results from the concentration of the fruit’s natural sugars. Although their organic acid and sugar composition depends on the variety, climate and the degree of maturation, pomegranate fruits contain predominantly citric and malic acids and glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose (4).

Lime juice and brown sugar:

As a substitute for tamarind, you can add lime juice to have the taste of tart and you can add brown sugar to maintain the sweet balance. Among fruits, citric acid is most concentrated in lemons and limes,1 comprising as much as 8% of the dry fruit weight (5).

These substitutes should be used in equal quantities. If the demand of the recipe is 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, then add an equal quantity of them.

Brown sugar, a traditional sweetener with a distinctive flavor, is mainly made from sugarcane through extraction, clarification, and boiling. It is also called non-centrifugal cane sugar, which does not separate molasses, so it retains the original flavor and nutrients of sugarcane. Brown sugar is rich in flavonoids and phenols that may act as antioxidants and, therefore, exert benefits on organisms (6).

Dried fruits and lemon juice:

Lemon juice and dried fruits combo can also be used as a substitute for tamarind paste. Dried fruits could be chopped prunes, dates, and apricots. Mix these dried fruits and lemon juice and add some water to the bowl. Leave this mixture for 20 to 30 minutes covered.

Lemon and lime juice, both from the fresh fruit and from juice concentrates, provide more citric acid per liter than ready-to-consume grapefruit juice, ready-to-consume orange juice, and orange juice squeezed from the fruit. Ready-to-consume lemonade formulations and those requiring mixing with water contain ≤6 times the citric acid, on an ounce-for-ounce basis, of lemon and lime juice (5).

After 30 minutes, strain the water out of it and blend well. The paste is ready. You can use this paste in equal quantities as tamarind paste.

Instead of prunes, dates, and apricots, you can also use raisins. Dried fruits are a nutrient-concentrated form of fresh fruits with lower moisture content. Traditional dried fruits (e.g., those with no added sugars) are apples, apricots, dates, figs, mulberries, peaches, pears, prunes, and raisins. On the other hand, some dried fruits such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, mangoes, and strawberries are infused with a sugar solution prior to drying. Thus, one should beware that consuming large amounts of some dried fruits can add significant amounts of simple sugars to the diet (7).

Rice vinegar:

Rice vinegar is the aged and filtered product obtained from the acetous fermentation of sugars derived from rice. Black vinegar, also known as Kurosu, is produced from unpolished rice with rice germ and bran through stationary surface fermentation and contains higher amounts of organic acids and amino acids than other vinegars. Black vinegar is characterized as a health food rather than only an acidic seasoning because it has been reported to exhibit antioxidant activity and to decrease the size of adipocytes (8).

If you run out of tamarind paste in your kitchen or stores and you have rice vinegar and brown sugar around you, then you can combine them and can use them as a substitute for tamarind paste.

It would provide the same sour and sweet taste in your dish. 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar contains no calories, less than 1 gram of fat and sugar. It contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is rich in antioxidants that are beneficial for reducing damage to cells.

Vinegar is used in equal quantities as tamarind paste.

Amchur powder:

Amchur (dried pulp of unripe Mangifera indica) is used in Indian spices as a souring agent to provide the desired acidity in the various food recipes. Amchur, or dehydrated product of unripe mango flesh in the form of peeled slices or powder, is used as an acidulant or a souring agent for curries. Amchur is rich in citric acid and is used mainly for its flavour and aroma and is a souring agent for curries (9). 

Amchur powder can also be used as a substitute for tamarind paste. It gives an acidic and sour flavour to the dish. In north India, it is the most popular substitute for cooking. It gives a pleasant aroma in cooking. To make a paste of amchur powder, it is mixed with water in equal quantities.

Amchur powder is helpful for indigestion. Ingredients of amchur powder have antioxidants in them.

Marmalade:

An equal quantity of marmalade can also be used as a substitute for tamarind paste. It provides a bitter and sweet taste to the dish.

Marmalade is a semi-solid or gel-like product prepared from fruit ingredients together with one or more sweetening agents which may contain suitable food acids and food pectin. The ingredients are concentrated by cooking to a point that the total soluble solids of the finished marmalade is not below 65% (10).

Marmalade is rich in vitamin C; it is beneficial for repairing tissues in our body, it produces collagen as well. If you are on a food diet, then you should avoid marmalade because it is rich in sugar.

Moreover, you can use it spread on the toast of bread (it contains 69 calories in it).

Tamarind pulp:

If you have got an area store that sells tamarind pulp, then you’ll create an authentic paste with it. try and get your hands on the pulp while not seeds; if not, you’ll take away the seeds and separate the pulp as you create the paste. Mix two tablespoons of pulp with a half cup of heat water and let the pulp soak till soft. 

Then merely rub the pulp through your hands to make a paste. If your pulp has seeds, remove them at this stage. Once the pulp appears a lot like paste, strain out the water.

Tamarind pulp contains tartaric acid, which renders it acidic in taste, in an amount of 8–18%. It also contains  25–45% reducing sugars, 2–3.5% pectin,  2–3% proteins, fiber and cellulosic materials. Half of the tartaric acid is in combined form, chiefly as potassium bitartrate and to a small extent as calcium tartrate. The glucose and fructose contents are about 70 and 30%, respectively that comprises the total sugar content while a trace amount of sucrose is also present. During storage, tamarind pulp turns brown due to degradation Maillard reactions which occur with proteins and sugars present in the pulp (2).

Other FAQs about Tamarind that you may be interested in.

Can you eat tamarind seeds?

Conclusion

In this brief article, various substitutes for tamarind paste are discussed along with their health benefits. These substitutes should be used in the quantity that is mentioned in this article otherwise it could bring changes in the taste.

References

  1. Israel, K. Shiny, et al. Value addition of tamarind products in Karnataka. J Pharmacog Phytochem, 2019, 8, 726-730.
  2. Obulesu, M., and Sila Bhattacharya. Color changes of tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) pulp during fruit development, ripening, and storage. Int J Food Prop, 2011, 14, 538-549.
  3. Ekesa, Beatrice Nakhauka. Selected superfoods and their derived superdiets. Superfood and functional food-The development of superfoods and their roles as medicine, 2017, 95-114.
  4. Yilmaz, Yusuf, Ilyas Çelik, and Fatma Isik. Mineral composition and total phenolic content of pomegranate molasses. J Food Agri Environ, 2007, 5, 102.
  5. Penniston, Kristina L., et al. Quantitative assessment of citric acid in lemon juice, lime juice, and commercially-available fruit juice products. J Endourol, 2008, 22, 567-570.
  6. Chen, Erbao, et al. Analysis and Comparison of Aroma Compounds of Brown Sugar in Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan Using GC-O-MS. Molecules, 2022, 27, 5878.
  7. Alasalvar, Cesarettin, Jordi-Salas Salvadó, and Emilio Ros. Bioactives and health benefits of nuts and dried fruits. Food Chem, 2020, 314, 126192.
  8. Hutchinson, U., Jolly, N., Chidi, B. et al. Vinegar Engineering: a Bioprocess Perspective. Food Eng Rev 11, 290–305 (2019). 
  9. Gupta, C., A. P. Garg, and S. Gupta. Antimicrobial and phytochemical studies of fresh ripe pulp and dried unripe pulp of Mangifera indica (AMCHUR). Middle-East JScie Res, 2010, 5, 75-80.
  10. Ajala, A. S., and L. A. Ajao. Production and Quality Evaluation of Ginger-Flavoured Banana Marmalade. Int J Emerg trend Eng Develop, 2012, 7, 579-584.