Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)

Tamarind is a sour spice which is commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines. It comes from the pulp of ripe seed pods of the tamarind tree. 


Tamarind has a sour, yet sweet, fruity flavour. In India and Southeast Asia it is used as the acid component in cooking, much the same as how lemon and lime is used.


Tamarind has little aroma, with only hints of sweet and sour.


Tamarind is sold in blocks, slices, concentrates or pastes and is an essential ingredient in many Indian and Southeast Asian curries, meat dishes, pickles, chutneys, sauces, soups and even sherbet.  It is also used in soft drinks, fruit punch, milkshakes, ice-cream and is one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. It is used in the West Indies in rice dishes, stews, drinks and sauces. Tamarind is good with cabbage, pork, lamb, fish, mushrooms and vegetables and marries with asafoetida, chilli, coriander, cumin, galangal, garlic, ginger and turmeric.


Tamarind trees grow to 4-20 metres high and have plenty of foliage. They grow best in tropical to subtropical climates and are relatively drought tolerant. Yellow flowers turn into long, reddish/brown coloured pods and the pulp can be extracted from the pod’s brittle outer shell once ripe. Tamarind trees are known to produce pods for 200 years. 


Tamarind is believed to be native to east Africa, probably Madagascar, however tamarind trees are now mainly grown in India, Southeast Asia and the West Indies. Its name comes from Arabic ‘thamar-i-hindi’ which means Indian fruit or date.


Tamarind is a mild laxative and has been used for herbalists in treatment of fevers, inflammation, liver disorders and jaundice.

Facts about Tamarind

Tamarind can be used to clean copper or brass. Tamarind is one of the main ingredients in Worchester sauce.