Tamarind Substitutes: Here Are Some Recommended Alternatives You Can Choose

Tamarind has a mildly sour taste.

Tamarind is an ingredient used to add sourness and is indispensable in Thai and Indian cuisine.

It sometimes appears in recipes for authentic ethnic dishes, but many people may not know what kind of ingredient it is.

However, it takes a lot of courage to buy an ingredient you don’t know what it is.

I think I’ll buy tamarind. I don’t know…

When you are in such a bind, I recommend you try using an alternative to tamarind.

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to some recommended substitutes for tamarind, so please take a look at them!

What kind of food is tamarind?

Tamarind is a leguminous tree that grows wild in the tropical regions of Africa, and the fruit is used as food.

The fruit is used as edible food. It can be eaten as a seasoning for soups and curries, and also as a dessert made into jams and candies by adding sugar and other ingredients.

Tamarind is also called “makkam” or “butterfly modama,” and is characterized by its fava bean-like shape, ranging in size from 6 to 20 centimeters.

There are two types of tamarind, one is mainly acidic and the other is sweet. The sweet type is suitable for fresh eating.

Tamarind fruits have a sticky texture like dried persimmons, and processed tamarind paste and tamarind water are also available.

Tamarind is rich in citric acid and dietary fiber and is expected to help regulate the bowels.

It also contains iron, potassium, vitamins, and minerals, which help prevent anemia and maintain normal digestive functions.

Tamarind is commonly used for cooking fruit, but the leaves can be used as a poultice. The seeds, flowers, and bark are also said to have medicinal properties, making it a versatile plant with no parts to throw away!

I recommend these 9 substitutes for tamarind

Substitute for tamarind 1: Dried plums

Dried Plums

Dried plums are sour and make a great tea snack.

It is a familiar ingredient in Japan and can be used in cooking as well.

Umeboshi is said to be the best ingredient to substitute for tamarind and is easy to use instead.

The sticky and sour taste of dried plums is similar to that of tamarind and can be substituted without any discomfort.

However, if you want the texture to be similar, choose dried plums that are soft and fluffy, not the crunchy plum type.

In addition to the sour taste, umeboshi may also have a salty taste, so depending on the dish you are substituting, you may want to pay attention to the amount of salt.

Substitute for tamarind 2: Lemon juice

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has a fruity and sour taste.

It is used in a variety of dishes such as fried foods, carpaccio, and dressings.

Lemon juice has the same sour taste as tamarind, so it can be substituted when you want to add sourness to the whole dish.

The sourness of lemon juice softens when it is heated, so if you want to increase the sourness, you may want to add it just before the dish is finished.

Substitute for tamarind 3: Vinegar


Vinegar can be used in vinegar dishes, dressings, and drinks.

Fruit vinegar is also popular as a healthy seasoning.

Since tamarind is a sour food, it can be substituted with vinegar.

There are various types of vinegar, but fruit vinegar is recommended as a substitute for tamarind.

Grain vinegar can be substituted, but since tamarind is a fruit and has a fruity flavor, fruit vinegar such as apple or grape will work well with it.

However, some types of vinegar have various seasonings added to them, so it is recommended that you adjust the seasonings in your recipe.

Also, since it is a highly acidic seasoning, try adding it in small amounts.

Substitute for tamarind 4: Ume plum tube

Ume Plum Tube

Ume-niku (plum) tubes are made by processing dried plums into a tube shape.

It’s a convenient product that can be easily topped on dishes.

Just as dried plums can be used as a substitute for tamarind, ume-niku tubes can also be used instead.

Substitute for tamarind 5: Kneaded plums

Kneaded Plums

Kneaded plums are processed from dried plums into a paste.

Since it is in paste form, it is easy to use in soups and other dishes that use tamarind.

If the paste is divided into small portions, it is easy to use while adjusting the taste.

Substitute for tamarind 6: Ponzu


Ponzu is also used in cold shabu and stewed dishes.

It has a mild sour taste and is the perfect seasoning to substitute for tamarind.

Ponzu is a combination of citrus fruit juice and vinegar.

There are many kinds of ponzu, such as ponzu soy sauce with soy sauce added to it, sesame ponzu with sesame seeds added, and yuzu ponzu with yuzu added.

All of them can be used in place of tamarind, but the flavors may be too strong to suit some dishes.

When using ponzu as a substitute for tamarind, it’s best to use it in small amounts, tasting as you go!

Substitute for tamarind 7: Tomatoes + vinegar

Tomatoes + Vinegar

I explained that vinegar is a good substitute for tamarind, but if you find it too acidic, you can add tomatoes.

The combination of tomatoes and vinegar will mellow out the fruity taste of the tomatoes mixed with the acidity of the vinegar.

Since tamarind is a seasoning made from fruits, the freshness and fruity taste of tomatoes may go well with it.

Substitute for tamarind 8: Lime


Lime” has a clean and sour taste.

It is shaped like a lemon and has a green color.

Limes can also be used as a substitute for tamarind if squeezed and used in the same way as lemons.

However, lime can be a bit bitter and green, so it may affect the finish of your dish.

Tamarind Substitute 9: And more! Everyone’s ideas

  • Red Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar

Recipes using tamarind substitutes

I’ve introduced tamarind substitutes so far, but some people may not know how to use them.

The following is a recipe for a Thai-style curry that can be made deliciously with the substitute.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small whole cumin
  • 1 onion
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 small clove of grated garlic
  • Grated ginger 1 small
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 large plum paste tubes (substitute tamarind)
  • 300cc water
  • 1 small salt


  1. Heat cumin hall in olive oil over low heat, add cut onion and potatoes.
  2. Add grated garlic and grated ginger and fry over medium heat, then add curry powder.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, drained tuna and bring to a boil, then add the plum paste dissolved in water.
  4. When it’s completely cooked, season with salt and you’re done!

Easy to make curry with a refreshing sour authentic taste, so please try!


  • Tamarind is the fruit of an African tree, also known as makkam, butterfly modama.
  • It is shaped like a fava bean and comes in two types: sour and sweet.
  • It has a sticky texture and is used for seasonings and desserts.
  • The following 9 are recommended as substitutes for tamarind.
  • Dried plums, lemon juice, vinegar, plum paste tube, kneaded plums, ponzu, tomato + vinegar, lime, red wine vinegar.
  • We recommend “authentic Thai style curry” using ume tubes instead of tamarind.