There is a lot of confusion about tamarind because there are various ways it can be purchased and prepared.
For example, terms like “tamarind paste,” “tamarind pulp,” “tamarind puree,” “tamarind sauce,” and “tamarind fruit” may foster this confusion.
But what exactly is tamarind puree? How is it different from tamarind paste or tamarind sauce?
In this article, you will learn the differences between these terms, as well as what tamarind puree is and how to use it.
Related: What Is Tamarind Paste?
What Is Tamarind Puree?
Tamarind puree is a thick, dark brown paste made from the tamarind fruit. It has a tart, acidic flavor with hints of sweetness, and is often used in Asian cuisine as a souring agent or condiment.
Tamarind puree can be found in either liquid or paste form and is typically sold in jars or cans. When using tamarind puree in cooking, it is important to dilute it with water or other liquids to avoid over-souring dishes.
The puree can also be used as a natural sweetener in place of sugar. In addition to its culinary uses, tamarind puree is also known for its medicinal properties. It is said to aid in digestion and can be used as a laxative.
Tamarind puree can be found in most Asian markets or online retailers.
Related: Does Tamarind Paste Have Soy?
What is tamarind puree made of?
Tamarind puree is made from the pulp of tamarind fruit. It is a more fluid form of tamarind paste that is easier to work with. Like tamarind paste, it is made from the dried pulp of the tamarind fruit.
The fruit is harvested from the tamarind tree and the outer rind of the tamarind fruit is removed to get to the pulp/fruit inside. This pulp has a pleasant, tangy flavor and is used extensively in various dishes. It is also believed to have medicinal properties.
Tamarind pulp is then processed to make tamarind puree, tamarind paste, and other products. Below you will learn more about the processing differences used to create these different tamarind preparations.
Is tamarind puree the same as tamarind paste?
There is a lot of confusion between tamarind puree and tamarind paste, and although they both come from the dried pulp of the tamarind fruit, tamarind puree is not as thick as tamarind paste.
Tamarind puree has more of a dipping sauce consistency. Tamarind paste is often very compressed and sold in a solid concentrated state. One way tamarind paste is sold is in a compressed brick of dried tamarind pods. These bricks look a lot like fig paste.
They often contain the pods and seeds of the dried tamarind fruits. To use the bricks of tamarind paste, one must first soak them to soften them. Tamarind paste also comes in the form of a paste that is easier to use, with most of the pods and seeds removed.
This paste is often sold in jars and is sometimes labeled as “tamarind concentrate” or “jarred tamarind paste.” Unlike tamarind paste, tamarind puree is made by soaking the dried pods or paste bricks overnight and then separating the pods and seeds from the pulp.
To do this, you can force everything through a colander lined with cheesecloth and then combine the pulp with the soaking liquid. This is what gives tamarind puree more of a dipping sauce or apple butter consistency.
Related: Does Tamarind Paste Go Bad?
Is tamarind puree the same as tamarind sauce?
Tamarind puree and tamarind sauce are similar, yet not exactly the same. Sometimes, tamarind sauce can contain more palm sugar or sweetener than commercial tamarind puree.
Both tamarind preparations have a more fluid consistency than tamarind paste, which is thick. Although both tamarind sauce and tamarind puree have more fluid consistency, tamarind sauce is much more liquid than tamarind puree.
Tamarind sauce often needs no additional preparation and is ready to use for cooking, etc. Due to added sweeteners, tamarind sauce is often sweeter than tamarind puree. It has a sweet yet sour taste.
It is often purchased in bottles whereas tamarind puree is usually found in jars or cans.
What are the substitutes for tamarind puree?
If you cannot get tamarind puree for a recipe, you can use other forms of tamarind fruit pulp as a substitute. These include tamarind paste, tamarind sauce, or tamarind fruit itself.
However, with each substitute you use, you may need to perform an additional task or add/subtract certain ingredients to get the same results as tamarind puree in a recipe.
Substitutes for tamarind puree include:
1. Tamarind Paste
For tamarind paste or tamarind concentrate, you will need to process it further to get a sauce-like consistency like tamarind puree. This entails soaking it overnight (especially if it comes in block form) and then possibly removing any seeds or other debris.
It may also need to be strained through a colander and water added to get the same consistency you would have with tamarind puree.
2. Tamarind Sauce
Tamarind sauce can be used as a substitute for tamarind puree, but check the bottle to see the added sugar content, as you will likely not need to add any additional sugar to a recipe if you are using the sauce.
Since tamarind sauce is in a much more liquid state than tamarind puree, you may not need to use as much in a recipe. A little tamarind sauce goes a long way.
Related: How To Make Tamarind Seed Powder
3. Tamarind fruit
Another substitute for tamarind puree is the tamarind fruit itself. If you are using this form of tamarind, you will have a few extra steps to perform to get tamarind puree.
First, you will need to dry the tamarind fruit pods to make the outer shell easier to crack open. Once you are able to crack open the outer shell of the fruit, you will notice thick, fibrous fruit/pulp inside. This tamarind pulp is surrounding ball-shaped seeds.
These seeds and other debris will need to be removed and separated from the fibrous fruit pulp. Once you have a bowl of separated tamarind fruit pulp prepared, you can place this in a blender and add a tablespoon or two of water.
Keep blending and adding water until you reach a dipping sauce-like consistency. Another product called “tamarind paste” can be used in lieu of tamarind puree. It usually comes in a jar. It is thicker than tamarind puree, so you can blend it with water until you reach the right consistency.
Keep in mind that tamarind paste, tamarind puree, and tamarind fruit pulp will not have added sugar like most tamarind sauces on the market, so adjust for this in your recipe if needed.
All kinds of tamarind fruit preparations are used in various dishes like pad Thai, frozen desserts, chutneys, soups, curry recipes, and even cocktails.
Tamarind fruit in its various forms has been used for centuries throughout India and other Asian countries and demonstrates a versatility of use that has almost no limits.