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If a recipe calls for tamarind pulp/paste/concentrate, can I substitute powder? If so, how much tamarind powder should I use?

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  • Tamarind powder is very different in flavor and consistency, I would be very cautious in substitutions.
    – metacubed
    Aug 10, 2014 at 1:26
  • @metacubed If you can elaborate a bit that might be a good answer! I thought it might be usable to get similar tartness and when it's mixed into something the texture wouldn't matter too much.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 10, 2014 at 2:02
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    I'm having trouble putting the difference into words, hence the comment. A large part of the tamarind flavor (in traditional dishes) is because of interactions with other ingredients. That doesn't really happen with dry powder.
    – metacubed
    Aug 10, 2014 at 2:08
  • I would agree that tamarind powder is not the best substitute, and I would add that whole tamarind is not that hard to deal with if you can find it. In my experience, it only took one attempt to go from "What am I supposed to do with these giant peanut-looking things?" to "Oh, this is actually pretty easy." If you really don't like the extra step, make more than you need and freeze the rest. Also see this question.
    – JTL
    Nov 2, 2015 at 15:23

3 Answers 3

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I would like to point out that the block, pulp, paste and powder each impart different properties to anything you cook or prepare.

The blocks of tamarind pulp are the tamarind fruit pods stripped of the outer husk and compressed tightly together. It is full of fibers and seeds.

The pulp is usually a processed version of the block and should be relative free of fibers and seeds.

The paste is further refined and has been sifted and strained to remove the fibers and seeds.

From what I understand the powder is the dehydrated juice made from the process of compressing the block.

To prepare a container of pulp from a block; break up as much as you need and reconstitute it by covering it with boiled water. 15-20 minutes is sufficient to allow it to soften. Push a bit at a time through a fine meshed strainer. We find that a spatula or small scraper is really helpful for this step. You're essentially rubbing the fibers (and seeds) against the strainer to separate the pulp from the fibers. The pulp falls through and the fibers stay behind.

In the end, you should have a bowl full of soft tamarind paste that is about the consistency of apple sauce. This is now ready to be used and can be stirred directly into your dish.

Save the water that was used to soak the tamarind. You can use it in your cooking in place of some of the water or broth.

How does this paste you made from the block compare with the powder... It doesn't... It seem in my opinion to be a completely different taste. I would not use the powder to prepare pad-thai or a Malaysian curry as it rarely imparts the same punch as freshly prepared pulp.

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if you like more sourness in your dish you can actually same quantity to that of a actual paste pulp/paste/concetrate. If not I would suggest to do 3/4. Small Tip : Depends on what dish you are making, sometimes use of powder could be tricky and might not get well blended into the dish. So mixing it up with hot water prior to adding to the dish is a safe move and make sure it mix it really well, else eater could end up with a lump of tamarind. Hope this helps.

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make a past out of the powder and use it. But always add half of what's called in recipe and later you can add to taste.

found this on a recipe - 1 teaspoon dried tamarind (or one-half inch fresh tamarind thinly sliced or diced)

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    Do you mean tamarind? You said turmeric.
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 22, 2014 at 3:59
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    @Jolenealasla I don't think you'd thinly slice or dice tamarind...
    – Cascabel
    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:19
  • @Jefromi Yep, I was kind of thinking that too. Maybe frozen?
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 22, 2014 at 7:16
  • sorry about mixing up words (autocorrect), I get them in bars or slabs, seeds removed and packed like cakes from Asian stores.
    – voddy
    Aug 25, 2014 at 0:13

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