In this article, we're getting into the finer points about tamarind sauce.
We'll tell you what it tastes like, how the texture is, what makes it different from tamarind paste and, of course, how to use it in your vegan cooking.
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What does Tamarind Sauce Taste Like?
Tamarind sauce can refer to a wide variety of condiments. You may find it in Indian restaurants as a sweet and sour sauce served alongside red chili sauce.
There's also a Thai sauce with ginger, garlic and chili peppers and a Vietnamese sauce that's hot, sweet and sour (note that these may contain fish sauce or other animal products).
The flavors that are common to tamarind sauces are sweet and tart. This is because the tamarind is so strongly sour. Sugar is added to mellow it out, along with other spices that tend to blend into the background.
Tamarind Sauce texture and Mouthfeel
Tamarind sauces may be thick or thin.
The thick kinds can have a texture similar to ketchup while the thinner sauces can be as runny as brothy soup.
In general, tamarind sauces are blended until smooth with perhaps a slightly gritty texture.
However, some sauces may have bits of garlic, onion and spices.
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Is Tamarind Paste the Same as Tamarind Sauce
It's easy to confuse tamarind sauce with tamarind paste, but the two are not the same.
The paste is often the ingredient in tamarind sauce that gives it its tang.
Tamarind paste is the mashed pulp of the tamarind tree's fruit.
You can buy it jarred and add it to dipping sauces, marinades and meals like vegan pad Thai.
What Can I Substitute for Tamarind Sauce?
Tamarind paste is your best bet if you don't have tamarind sauce.
You'll probably want to sweeten it a bit with some sugar or liquid sweetener and add seasonings according to what you're making.
If you don't have tamarind paste, don't worry...
A nifty hack for replacing tamarind paste in a recipe is using tomato paste with a squeeze of lime, so this can also work as a base for a tamarind sauce substitute.
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Tamarind Sauce Recipe Tips
Let's check out some recipes. These quick videos will show you how to make a couple of different versions of tamarind sauce, one of which you may already be familiar with.
Here's a great recipe for a super thick and rich tamarind chutney with a few simple ingredients:
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
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This video will show you how to make a full meal with a certain famous Thai tamarind sauce—pad Thai.
Here's what you'll need:
- Rice noodles
- Firm tofu
- Garlic chives
- Cooking oil
- Tamarind paste
- Soy sauce
- Palm sugar (or whatever you have on hand)
- Bean sprouts
- Roasted peanuts
Further Reading: What Does Tarragon Taste Like?
There are many types of tamarind sauce, but they all share that telltale sweet and sour flavor.
We suggest trying out a simple chutney or dipping sauce for vegan dumplings or spring rolls, but don't forget to make vegan pad Thai.
The effort is minimal and the results are astonishingly good.
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