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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Homemade Tamarind Paste

Tamarind is a tree that grows in tropical climates and produces a pod-like fruit, that is used countless cuisines around the world. Tamarind fruit is known for it’s unique sour flavor and is often added to curries or sauces.  You may see whole tamarind pods in the tropical produce section of well-stocked markets but the pods can be  difficult to work with. The dried paste form of tamarind is a simpler way to add the fantastic flavor of tamarind to your recipes. You can usually find dried tamarind in  Asian grocery stores or specialty markets in either a block of dried tamarind pulp (which needs to be rehydrated and strained before using) or in a prepared paste form (which is ready to use in recipes). Initially, I tried using the jar of prepared tamarind paste in several dishes  but I was disappointed by the lack of flavor. After reading the instructions from for guidance, I decided to try making my own paste from the tamarind pulp . It was a little intimidating and messy at first to work with  the block of tamarind (veins, seeds and all!) but I soon figured out the easiest way to strain the liquid and was left with  left with a jar of silky, smooth tamarind paste in no time. Making the tamarind paste from scratch was certainly worth the effort- it definitely has a much more pronounced flavor that the watery store-bought paste. Plus, you only need to use a little bit of the paste at a time, so I was able to add tamarind to quite a few recipes.

Homemade Tamarind Paste
Gluten Free
Yields approximately 2 Cups of Concentrated Tamarind Paste
Click Here for Printable Recipe

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1 (14) ounce block of wet tamarind
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water

1. Unwrap the tamarind block and place in large bowl.

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2. Cover the tamarind black with water and let soak for 20 minutes.

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3. Once the tamarind has soaked, place a fine mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Grab a small handful of the dried tamarind and squeeze through your fingers  over strainer.  You’re trying to just squeeze out the liquid and keep the solids in your  hands the liquid but don’t worry if some of the solids fall into the strainer as well.

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4. Discard any of the larger seeds/veins left in your hand.

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5. Continue breaking off small handfuls of the tamarind block, squeezing the tamarind through your fingers over the strainer, and discarding the solids left in your hand (Yes, this is a bit messy!)

6. Once you've squeezed the entire block through your hand, use a rubber spatula to  push down on the strainer and further separate the solids from the liquid.

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7. You should be left with just scraps in the strainer and all of the liquid strained into the mixing bowl underneath. In the bowl, you will have about 2 cups of silky tamarind paste! Transfer tamarind to a glass jar or covered container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Nutrition Information--approximately 20 calories per tablespoon of tamarind paste

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