Choosing Between Tamarind Pulp Paste or Concentrate.
Tamarind, in addition to it's pure form with the shell still on, comes in three main forms. They are, pulp, paste (often labelled as concentrate), and a thick, black concentrate. You might find you want to substitute one for another in a recipe because it's either more convenient, or it's all you have on hand.
However, knowing the difference between the different types of tamarind products will help you decide which to use.
Making Tamarind Paste from a Block
Tamarind pulp is often sold in a plastic covered block. It is the tamarind pulp with the shell and seeds removed. The fiber of the tamarind is still present.
For use, it requires being soaked in hot water for a time. The pulp is then strained through a sieve, leaving the fiber behind.
The result is a smooth tamarind paste.
Ready made Regular Tamarind Paste (labelled concentrate)
To save time, you can purchase tamarind paste in a jar or a tube. This is comparable to buying herbs in a tube such as cilantro paste. You can use it in roughly equal parts to the paste you would create from a tamarind block as described above. One tablespoon of this stuff is about equal to 1.5 tablespoons of the homemade soaked and strained tamarind paste.
This type is commonly comes from Thailand in a jar. You may find it labelled as Nuöc Me Chua if it is not in English.
It is important to note, this is the "regular" paste, but is sometimes labelled as concentrate.
Tamarind Concentrate - the thick black stuff
Tamarind concentrate is super thick and really dark. It's sometimes described as almost black in color. It is almost like a gel. This concentrate is usually comes from India. The most common brand in US and Canada is Tamicon.
The rule for the thick, black tamarind concentrate is to dilute one part concentrate with two parts water.
What about flavor?
Generally speaking, the homemade paste made from soaking and straining a tamarind block of pulp gives the best flavor. It just tastes fresher and less processed. In, fact I use the tamarind block in a Mint Peanut Chutney recipe for this exact reason. That's not to say you can't still have great results from tamarind in a jar.
A good comparison would be using freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of the bottled and pasteurized lemon juice. The latter may be more convenient, but freshly squeezed will give you better results, including flavor.
Hey, Leave a comment!
What type of tamarind do you prefer to use? How did it work for you? I'd love to know. Leave a comment below and share your experience.