Real World Gardener Real Tamarind in Spice It Up

August 15th, 2019


Tamarindus indica: Tamarind

You've probably heard of tamarind, but can you describe what it is, exactly? 

A bean... maybe? A spice... or something?

Spices and herbs aren’t always used in the way you would think.

For example, this next spice you soak then throw away the spice and use the water.

Sounds strange but what’s even more strange, is that even though it has a sour note, you can make lollies out of it.


Tamarind pod

Let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from


The tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica is perhaps not for suburban backyards because of it’s massive height. 18 - 20 m.

Ian recalls driving through a part of India where the Tamarind trees lined the road for over 30km!

Tamarindus%2Bindica.jpgTamarind pods look like pods from the Australian Black Bean tree. (Castanospermum australe.)

Inside the pods is a sticky mass of pulp with seeds and fibre.

Be careful though when purchasing Tamarind for use in cooking because there are 3 types.

  • Asian cooking: use tamarind paste which is flesh mixed with salt and water. DON'T USE for Indian cooking.
  • Indian cooking-use the dried out tamarind pulp, soak that in water and macerate. Drain off the acidulated water and use in your Indian dishes, but throw away the pulp.
  • You can also buy Tamarind concentrate which is the tamarind mixed with water, then boild down to a substance as thick as black molasses. Just use 1/2 teaspoon in your Indian dishes.

Fun Fact:Ever heard of chef Yotam Ottolenghi -- pretty much the "it" chef for all things vegetarian. 
Ottolenghi uses tamarind paste in everything; it's one of his "secret" ingredients.

If that's not reason enough to get to know tamarind, we don't know what is.

Just get the dried pulp to use in cooking but be wary of using tamarind paste for Indian dishes.

If you have any questions for me or for Ian, email us at

Or you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW 1675

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