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How Do I Make Tamarind Paste?

Ask the Chef

Q: Hi. My name is Tom, and I'll get right to the point. I have a receipt [recipe] that calls for "Tamarind paste." All I can find at my store is the Tamarind fruit. My question is, how do I make the fruit I buy from the store into the paste that my receipt calls for? I don't know how to use the fruit in regards to my receipt.
 
To give you a little bit more information, the fruit that is at the store has been processed into a glob with skin, seeds and meat all intact but in a gooey state. Is this what they refer to as a paste? If so I'm still not sure how to use it.
 
Would you mind pointing me in the right direction to resolve my query?
 
Thank you,

--Tom

A: First, you might check for an Asian or Indian market in your area that may carry Tamarind Paste. Or, you can buy it online. Here are a couple of sites, although we have not personally ordered from them and can't necessarily make a recommendation. We do not currently carry it in The Food Channel Store.


Import Foods

The Spice House

You can make a substitute by blending qual parts dried apricots, prunes, dates, plus lemon juice or lime or lemon juice. Use 2 tablespoons of this mixture for every teaspoon of tamarind paste. We have not experimented with this but it could be something that would work for you.

The best answer to your question may actually be found at the She Simmers site. This article, with photos, walks you through the difference between the fruit and the blocks—which sound like what you describe, and shows you how to prepare the paste. When in doubt, go with the expert!