5 recipes featuring tangy, puckery tamarind — from pad thai to a glaze for poultry

Have you met tamarind? If you say no, you might not even know you’ve had it. Though tamarind trees are originally from Africa, they’ve since spread all over South and Southeast Asia as well as become prominent in those regions’ respective cuisines. Tamarind bean pods grow green, then brown with brittle, papery shells encasing sticky, deep brown pulp. The pulp itself is sweet and sour, with citrusy notes.

If you’ve ever tried brown chutney alongside your samosas, that’s Tamarind Chutney providing a sour tang. Tamarind might also be the secret to your favorite pad thai. It’s even an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce! 

If you want to try cooking with tamarind, you can use it as a block or jar of paste, as concentrate, as a powder or in the pods themselves. Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring this flavorful ingredient.

Tamarind-Glazed Honey Shrimp, above. Sticky, tangy and sweet, this simple shrimp dish just needs some fragrant rice or even a mess of greens.

(Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; food styling by Nichole Bryant for The Washington Post)

Ghalieh Mahi (Spicy Tamarind Fish and Herb Stew). From our Essential Cookbooks newsletter series, here’s a recipe from cookbook “Bottom of the Pot” by Naz Deravian — a fragrant stew, ideal for upcoming cool weather.

(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Pad Thai With Shrimp. My colleague Becky Krystal loves noodles so much, she had to re-create the pad thai experience at home! If you need to keep the dish meatless, try Pad Thai With Crispy Tofu from our Plant Powered newsletter.

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Tamarind and Honey-Glazed Roast Turkey. This gorgeously glazed turkey was in our Thanksgiving spread last year, but take inspiration with the glaze. You can use it to glaze a roast chicken or cornish game hens — or even brush it on tofu!

(Renée Comet for The Washington Post)

Crispy Kale Burrata With Tamarind Dressing. Creamy burrata can benefit from a tangy dressing, and tamarind brings that puckery tang.

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