Categorized |Bits and Bites, Vegetarian

A Tantalizing Tamarind Sauce.

tamarind sauce

After posting the tambran (tamarind) ball recipe a couple days ago (sweet spicy sour tambran balls) , I realize that I still had some tamarind left back so I decided to share this recipe with you guys. Originally when I told my mom I purchased some tamarind in a box at the Asian store, she jokingly said “buh son, dais not the real thing” (gosh trinbago accent sweet eh!). So she got my dad to go out and get some of the ‘real thing” for me and sent it down with my sister (they live in Toronto and I’m in Hamilton). Sure enough it was the “tart” or sour type of tamarind we’re accustomed too in the Caribbean, but already out of the hard shell-like exterior.

This tamarind sauce is used primarily as a condiment or topping  for such things as saheena, aloo pie, pholourie and doubles. But I also recall (back to my school days again) a thicker version, with a sort of amchar massala undertone that was a hit with the kids at my primary school. Maybe I’ll post that recipe the next time I get some of the ‘real’ tamarind.

You’ll Need…

200 grams tamarind  pulp (about 7 oz)
3 cloves garlic
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 leaves shado beni
1 1/2 cup water

* add some salt and extra sugar if you find that the finished sauce is overly tart.

Before I go further I must let you know that there are 2 variations of this recipe. The first being the way I’ll show you below, where I’ll simmer the sauce on the stove for 10-15 minutes. The 2nd method you’ll use the same ingredients, except no cooking is involved. You simply add everything to a blender and give it a good pulse. I like to cooked version better as I find that the pungent ingredients like the shado bein and garlic is infused within the sauce and has a much milder after-taste.

The first step is to crush the pepper, garlic and shando beni into a sort of chunky paste. I give those things a rough chop and work it well in my mortar and pestle.

tambran sauce

tambran sauce (2)

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BTW, you’ll notice that my shado beni looks a bit starving… I’m just thankful I could get fresh shado beni here, so I’m not complaining. The next step is place the tamarind paste into a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups water. Now using your fingers, (if you didn’t get seedless), work the pulp away from the seeds and try to crush the flesh between your fingers. It  will get a bit messy so you can wear disposable gloves if you wish.

Now remove the seeds and discard. Place the saucepan on medium heat, add the sugar (pinch of salt) and the crushed pepper/garlic/shado beni to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Now turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and with the pot closed, allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

tambran sauce (4)

tambran sauce (5)

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tambran sauce (7)

Stir every 2-3 minutes and if you find that it’s getting really thick, add a bit more water. You’re looking for a sort of thick tomato soup consistency (a little thinner than ketchup). Allow to cool before serving as the taste when it’s hot is totally different than when it’s cool. If when you taste it you find that it’s more tart (sour) than anything else, add a bit more sugar. It should be the perfect balance of tart, savory and spicy.

tambran sauce (8)

This tambran sauce rocks when you dip some saheena, aloo pie or pholourie into it!

Before you go I invite you to leave me your comments below.. even if it just to say hello. It’s always appreciated. And don’t forget to join us on facebook and do check out the cooking videos.

rhyming chefI almost forgot. I’m not sure how many of you saw the message I posted on Facebook, but I mentioned that if you’d like to post any cooking/food related questions to a certified chef, who’s traveled all over the world doing his culinary thing.. now is the time to do so. A couple weeks back we met with the Rhyming Chef (Philman George) for coffee and during that meeting he agreed to take time from his hectic schedule to answer any questions you guys may have. All you have to do is leave the questions in the comment section below and I’ll send them off to him. I’ll then post the answers on the website for everyone to participate in the discussion.

You can learn more about The Rhyming Chef at his site A super cool ‘soldier’ with a massive passion for the culinary culture and history of the Caribbean, especially his home island of Barbuda.

I urge you to post your questions below and do check out Philman’s website for some amazing tips and cooking videos.

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40 Responses to “A Tantalizing Tamarind Sauce.”

  1. BT says:

    You can usually get shado beni at Niceys on Victoria Park, North of Finch

  2. Giselle says:

    I make tamarind sauce every year for a Bake and Shark Blocko held in Scarborough (Toronto). The only difference in my recipe is that I use more brown sugar (1/2 cup) and make a syrup with the water. Also I cook everything together, seeds and all and then strain at the end while still hot. I find it makes for a smoother sauce with a stronger tamarind favor.

  3. Michelle says:

    Shado beni is also used in Latin cooking. It goes by the name culantro or recaito. Check groceries where there is a large Puerto Rican or South American community.

  4. justme says:

    That looks like green onion to me not shadon beni

  5. d diao says:

    Thanks for sharing this.
    Another recipe which I am trying to locate is ‘curhi'(not sure if that is spelt correctly, but it is the Dahl served at Hindu Trini weddings).

  6. Ishwar says:

    Last week I got shado beni at one of the Chinese groceries (Hong Tai) in Scarborough (Toronto).. They called it "saw-edge herb". Check in the fresh herb section of your favourite Chinese (or ethnic) grocery to see if they carry it.

  7. Linda says:


    Here in the UK we don’t get shado beni so we have to use coriander leaves (that’s what cilantro is called in English, cilantro is Spanish). I know you don’t like it but roasted geera really makes the sauce special.

  8. Kitty says:

    Hey Chris …… I like your recipes a lot but my only problem is I live in Toronto and I don't know where to go and get shado beni from. Please let me know if there is anything else I can substitute instead.

  9. BCPTS says:

    Great site Chris……

  10. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I followed the instructions to produce it myself and it was delicious the first time. After I made it the second time it didn’t taste the same. How could that be? I did exactly everything as I did the first time. Anyway, I wanted to know if you have more of these recipes to share with us…

  11. Mimosa says:

    Shado beni, take some and put it in water, it will roots. (check to make sure it does not rot in the water). Plant indoor and transfer out in the summer. I got tired of paying for 1/2 pack of rotten stuff.

  12. w leslie says:

    HI i am english and my wife is a trini I am about to try making pholourie and tamarind sauce with your recipe let you know later how it turns out

  13. MARGARET says:


  14. Reecy says:

    I just made the Tamarind sauce …it was awesome!! I live in Jamaica and have the tamarind tree at the back of my house so I had to take the hard route to get the fleshy part off the seeds. I had the sauce with tofu it was delicious.

  15. dee says:

    im gonna try this recipe plus the saltfish acras plus the jerk marinade for my sons bday party. will let you know how it goes but i think im gonna love it


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