Tamarind’s popularity has been growing over the years, and the demand for markets to carry the ready-to-use paste has also grown.
There are many options in the market to choose from. You can find it in a pouch, glass jar, or plastic jar. It can be frozen, in the refrigerator aisle, or on a shelf.
The possibilities for this paste to make its way into your cupboards are endless.
In the culinary world, there are many food items that sound similar but are vastly different. Tamarind is one of those foods that has contradictory food items.
The name Tamarind has been part of controversy for some who tend to confuse tamarind with tamari. Since they are closely related in name, It is sometimes confused that tamari is a derivative of tamarind.
The two couldn’t be more different, and since tamari is associated with soy sauce, some may place tamarind in the same category as soy.
A majority of all paste does not contain soy, and it is not derived from soy. There may be some tamarind sources that do contain soy, but more than likely, the soy acts as a filler.
Please stick to the varieties that only contain tamarind as the whole ingredient, or it may read as a tamarind concentrate.
So, tamarind being labeled as soy is incorrect. This is a common misconception but one that can be easily remedied with a bit of research.
Tamarind is actually a fruit that comes from the tamarind tree. The tree is native to Africa but can now be found in tropical regions all over the world. The fruit itself has a unique taste that can be described as sweet and acidic. Making it very distinctly different from soy.
Related: What Is Tamarind Paste?
Is tamarind a soy product?
Tamarind is considered to be a part of the legume family, but it is not a soy product. Some people who have allergic reactions to tamarind experience these allergy symptoms like some would to soy products.
The pods may look the same and are both parts of the same legume family, but tamarind itself is not a soy product. It does not taste like soy nor can it be interchangeable with soy recipes.
When buying your tamarind paste or concentrate from the store, this does not mean you are consuming a soy-free product.
Always read your chosen products’ ingredients list. Look at the ingredients list closely and soy may have other names, also review the common allergen list and look to see if where your product was manufactured was made in a soy facility.
The flavors and textures are very different, and the allergy reactions someone would have to soy are not the same as those some experience with tamarind.
More than likely, your tamarind product was not even processed in a soy facility. Do not let the name or legume family relation fool you; these are two very different food products.
Tamarind is a delicious fruit that has many uses in sweet and savory dishes from all over the world. The flavor of soy is very different and is mild compared to tamarind.
Soy is often used to make tofu, used as a thickening agent or filler; sometimes, it may even act as a preservative.
Soybeans are green in color, grown on plants and are enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, whereas tamarind is a brown pod that grows on trees and would not taste good without being processed in some form.
With its growing popularity, make sure you know what you’re buying before heading to the store.
Related: Does Tamarind Paste Go Bad?
What is tamarind paste made of?
Tamarind paste is a sweet, acidic, sticky fruit, which, when combined with a simple mix of water, you can grind it down into a paste, create it into a concentrate, or freeze it into a block. Some paste you find in stores may have a number of other ingredients to keep it shelf-stable and fresh.
Traditional tamarind paste products are made of a tamarind concentrate which is a mix of water and with mashed down tamarind pulp. Many choose to make this product from the pods themselves, which is soaking the pods and mashing them with enough water to create a paste consistency and the amount needed for the recipe they are making.
Because there are many cultures that use tamarind, there are many different ways to create a paste.
One thing is for sure all the cultures that use tamarind paste will agree that a fresh ingredients recipe is the best option for their culinary needs.
Of course, to incorporate the paste into food recipes the added ingredients will boost the flavor and may even alter the tamarind taste, but the paste itself will always be best with basic ingredients.
What does this all mean for those who have a soy allergy? For the most part, you can rest be assured that tamarind paste is not a soy product, it is not associated with soy and you should be able to enjoy all the deliciousness that it has to offer without any worries! There should be absolutely no soy in your tamarind paste.
What does tamarind contain?
The genus Tamarindus is monotypic, meaning that it contains only this one species. The tamarind tree produces fruit that is used extensively in cuisines around the world.
The ripe fruit is considered to have a sweet-sour taste and is used as a seasoning to give recipes a distinct flavor. The unripe fruit is extremely sour and is not generally eaten on its own.
Tamarind has many different uses in traditional medicine and is thought to have health benefits. Some research suggests that it may help treat digestive issues, lower cholesterol levels, and boost weight loss.
Tamarind contains large amounts of fiber, which can help regulate digestion and prevent constipation. It also contains Vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system, and potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure.
In addition, tamarind includes compounds that may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
While more research is needed to confirm these potential health benefits, there is no doubt that tamarind is a nutritious and versatile fruit.
Nutritional Profile of Tamarind
Tamarind has plenty of nutrients and minerals that are very beneficial. Tamarind contains a good amount of all the essential amino acids, with the exception of tryptophan.
The amino acids in tamarind are easily digestible and absorbable. This is one reason why this tasty fruit has been linked to tissue health. The World Health Organization has named it as an ideal protein.
Tamarind also contains antioxidants which have been linked to a variety of health benefits. They have the ability to prevent free radical damage, specifically to the cells in our body.
Decreasing the risk of cancer is also one of these antioxidant benefits. Since the phytochemicals found in the tamarind tree, these chemicals include beta-carotene.
When it comes to brain health, you can find vitamin B12 and many other B vitamins in tamarind. Since these are water-soluble vitamins, the body has a difficult time in storing them, but they still provide plenty of benefits. B vitamins are great for the overall support and functions of the brain and nervous system.
Tamarind also contains levels of vitamin D, which is a great vitamin to prevent osteoporosis and support overall bone health. A half-cup serving has roughly thirty-four grams of sugar which may be a slight concern for those with diabetes.
Even though tamarind is a natural sugar source, be sure to minimize the amount of tamarind you consume if you have issues with blood glucose levels. Most of the calories found in tamarind are those from sugar.
Related: Does Tamarind Paste Go Bad?
Is tamari soy sauce the same as tamarind paste?
To explain the two, we must first understand the distinction between them. Tamarind is a tree that produces pod-like fruits, whereas tamari is a type of soy sauce made without wheat. Although both are similar in color, both have their own distinct flavor, consistency, and purpose. Tamari is a fermented Japanese sauce that has no relation to tamarind paste.
The key difference between the two is that tamarind paste is made from the fruit of the tamarind tree, whereas soy sauce is a fermented product made from soybeans.
Tamari will have a more intense flavor than tamarind paste and is used more like a seasoning than a condiment. It is not suggested or recommended to use the alternatively in any recipe.
Choose your tamarind source wisely. Know that the distinctions between tamarind and tamari are very different. They are by no means interchangeable and will give off very different flavors when used in a recipe.
There are plenty of tamarind sources to choose from that contain one ingredient, so read the labels.
No matter the style of tamarind product you choose, it should never give you the same allergic reactions as soy.
Tamarind should never be used as a soy sauce and most definitely never turned into a soy product as the composition is very different.