Tamarind paste is the pure concentrate form of the fruit from the Tamarind tree. This fruit is born in the form of thin brown pods with each pod containing 3-12 seeds that are surrounded by the fleshy tamarind fruit. When the tamarind fruit is ripe (colored brown or reddish-brown) it can be made into a paste. This is typically done by removing the seeds from the tamarind fruit and then blending the tamarind fruit into a pulp with a combination of water and sugar / spices.
Tamarind paste is available in a wide variety of markets. We recommend the Tamicon brand of tamarind paste as it is a pure form of tamarind paste (made from tamarind fruit only). It is also one of the most popular and widely available forms of tamarind paste.
If you’d like to purchase it online, we recommend buying Tamicon tamarind paste from Amazon. Amazon has great prices on the paste (paricularly if you buy the 6-pack) and they also sell a wide variety of other spices that you may need for some of the dishes that require tamarind paste.
If you’d like to purchase it at a local market, we recommend buying tamarind paste from an Asian grocery store, a Mexican grocer, or from a gourmet food store.
Tamarind and tamarind paste are used in a range of dishes all around the globe. The following is a short list of dishes and recipes that require tamarind paste:
Indian Cuisine: Rasam, Sambhar, Tamarind Chutney
Thai Cuisine: Phat Thai, Green Papaya Salad, Candies
Mexican Cuisine: Agua Fresca, Candies
Jamaican Cuisine: Jerk Chicken
Western Cuisine: Worcestershire sauce
In short – there is no difference between tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate.
Practically, you’ll find that tamarind paste/concentrate comes in 2 main forms: 1) a tub of paste, and 2) a square block of concentrate: