Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Jul 1, 2011 01:50 PM

Where can I buy tamarind paste?

I want to make a spicy chickpea recipe for the 4th but it calls for tamarind paste and I don't know where to find that. Would the Asian markets carry it? Or what about the Armenian markets in Watertown?

I'm in the Newton/Watertown area. Prefer not to drive into downtown Boston, not enough time.

Thanks for any suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Asian markets are the place. The best stuff comes in a square clear plastic pouch and it full of seeds. Pain to get the seeds out, but all the other brands I've tried are not half as tasty.

    The former Super88 (Hong Kong Market) at the Brighton Ave. Comm Ave split in Allston has it for sure.

    1 Reply
    1. recently got some at the dedham whole foods.

      1. You'll find it in several forms at South Asian markets. The dehydrated, fibrous cake format is definitely more work.

        For cocktails and cooking, I rely on this stuff, respectable flavor and very convenient:

        Not too far from you is Waltham India Grocery. Others I use include Shalimar in Central Square, Cambridge, Shiva Bazaar in Norwood, and the small Indian section of Syrian Grocery Importing Co. in the South End.

        Hope that helps!

        3 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Thanks. I ended up at Patels on Moody street, (thanks Teezeetoo) since it was close to me. I saw the slab of paste with seeds etc, and right next to it the Tamicon paste in a small 8-oz. jar. I can see working with the slab would be a lot of work so I wimped out and got the concentrate. Now I'm not sure how much to use.

          The recipe said 2 ounces of the paste soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water then pushed through a sieve. I'm guessing a tablespoon at the most of the concentrate. Maybe less? The label says the following: "one teaspoon for six person for specific tastes of soups, stews, gravies, sambar, rasam etc. in any cold, warm or hot preparation" Maybe I only need a teaspoon dissolved in some hot water?

          1. re: Jpan99

            Tamicon is super-concentrated tamarind, so I think 1 tablespoon will be too strong and once you've put in too much, there's no reasonable fix. I use approximately 1 level teaspoon of Tamicon to 1 cup DRY lentils/beans (that's to say, one cup of beans as measured before soaking and cooking). You can always add a bit more even after cooking or in the last few minutes of simmering if you want a more tangy/sour taste, but a little at a time. Good luck.

            1. re: ninrn

              Thanks! My spicy chickpea recipe uses 1 1/4 cups of dried chickpeas so I'll start with 1 tsp. and see how that tastes.

              Thanks to all for the help! Soon I'll be asking what else I can make with my concentrated tamarind!

        2. You can actually find the paste at Whole Foods. Look for a yellow, 2 oz cone-shaped container, or the even smaller foil packets. The foil packets are far more expensive, but much better. You will find these items tucked into the almost non-existant Asian section. Neither option is as good as starting with the cake, but might be a good option if this is the first time you have worked with tamarind, or if you are prepping a lot of food.

          1. i have always bought the very thick (like tar) DARK brown paste sold in Indian markets in a semi-opaque plastic jar w/ red screw top and label printed on the plastic (no paper label). Packaging could have changed by now; you will likely own one jar for all your remaining lives. This is the pure thing- not thinned, and no seeds. You will want to add a little boiling water to it and mash w/ a fork to get it to dissolve first before incorporating it into your recipe.

            7 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              That sounds like tamcon..the most horrible thing in the world if you ask me. Sourness, yeah, but none of the full round frutiness of tamarind.

              Get the dried real tamarind and put 5 minutes work in, it's worth it. I cook with tamarind everyday, sometimes for all three meals and it's almost no work at all.

              1. re: Muchlove

                Yah, glad someone else chimed in. Those concentrates are just not worth it, and the real stuff, not that much work. But ever the purist I didn't want to rant for the n to the nth time...

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Hey Tamicon Haters/Tamarind Purists, I agree that fresh tamarind tastes better, especially raw, but Tamicon works great in lots of cooked applications and is a lot less work than soaking pods and squishing the pulp out as we did for many years. Huge numbers of really great Indian and Thai home cooks here and in Asia use it all the time (including my 70-year old Mom and all her sisters). I make almost everything from scratch, and it's one of the few convenience items I have in my fridge.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      Well, each to their own. I know plenty of South Asians who would turn their nose up at tamcon so I guess it's 50:50.

                      Incidentally, when people tell me they can't taste the difference between the real stuff and tamcon, that's when I smile politely and move away.

                      1. re: Muchlove

                        Cheese whiz make great mac and cheese too ;-)

                      2. re: ninrn

                        I think the secret here is to use Tamicon as a convenience alternative, but never to brag about it. It's kind of like using canned chicken broth instead of your own stock. Yeah, there's no comparison in flavor, but sometimes it's nice (or you have no alternative but) to pull something off the fridge shelf and go. I don't have the ghost of a Thai or South Asian grandmother tut-tutting over my shoulder.