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Feb 18, 2007 06:02 AM

Tamarind Paste vs. Concentrate

I'm making Chef Ana Sortun's Tamarind-Glazed Short Ribs tonight for dinner, and her recipe calls for "tamarind paste", and talks about straining the liquid after cooking to remove the tamarind seeds.

I just checked my fridge, and I have Laxmi Brand Natural Tamarind Concentrate from House of Spices (India). I stirred it up, and there are definitely no "seeds" in the concentrate. Everything I've Googled seems to use these two types of tamarind interchangeably - is that true?

The recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. of tamarind paste - I'm halving the recipe, so I'll use 1 Tbsp. Is the concentrate going to be more highly flavored than the paste, and should I cut the amount used in half yet again?

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  1. The paste, generally from Thailand and sold in a gooey black block,
    calls for hot water to be worked into it (I always use my fingers in a shallow bowl)
    then strained for both seeds and skins.
    The end result should be the consistancy of a very thick fruit nectar.
    It is quite densely flavored, and while I am not familiar with the Laxmi product,
    I cannot imagine that any concentrate would be more highly flavored than the
    reconstituted paste. Thai products seem to be more readily available
    here in the S.F. area where I live.

    After buying her book 'Spices' at the restaurant on a recent trip to Boston,
    I have made Chef Anna's short ribs, as well as other recipes,
    and I would vote against cutting the amount down.

    Perhaps you should plan to add small amounts gradually.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hop

      Thanks for the info - I started with 1 Tbsp. for the 3.5 lbs. of short ribs; we'll see how it goes. I know I've seen the paste before here in the Boston area; I've just never bought it because I had the concentrate in my fridge.

      BTW, what other recipes have you made from her Spice cookbook?

    2. Using half the amount of concentrate is a good plan. Using concentrat just cuts time, so you don't have to soak and strain the tamarind in blocks. Some concentrate is pretty bad though, so if you find one you like, stick with that brand.

      2 Replies
      1. re: favolaus

        Well, it's too late now. I used about 1 Tbsp. of the concentrate mixed with the water, as stipulated in the recipe. It's been in the oven for 2 hours, and so far, it smells great. We'll see when I unwrap everything in an hour or so and remove the ribs and strain the liquid to reduce it. :-)

        1. re: LindaWhit

          And 1 Tbsp. of the concentrate worked perfectly - it was just as I remembered from Oleana - sans the Oleana atmosphere, however. :-)