In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

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.

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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)

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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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  1. February 25, 2022 / 4:40 pm

    Hey Chris whenever I can I follow you on utube.. I enjoy trying new recipes and especially go to your site to find when I need a recipe

  2. Huxxy
    October 18, 2020 / 1:40 am

    Hey Chris,

    Love your channel really enjoy making your dishes. I’m leving and working in Arabia and I was lucky enough to find an instant version similar to your sauce. Mother’s Recipe a Tamarind and Date chutney. Its just on the sour side of blanced and although its a dipping sauce for samosas etc. I often add it to stir fries to give them a wonderful deep flavour. When I get back to the UK I’m going to make your sauce and also try the aloo pie.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. BT
    October 29, 2014 / 8:37 am

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

  4. Giselle
    June 27, 2014 / 4:12 pm

    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.

  5. Michelle
    March 14, 2014 / 4:28 pm

    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.

  6. justme
    March 4, 2014 / 9:42 pm

    That looks like green onion to me not shadon beni

  7. d diao
    January 1, 2014 / 3:47 pm

    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).

  8. Ishwar
    April 24, 2013 / 8:57 pm

    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.

  9. Linda
    March 9, 2013 / 6:28 am


    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.

      January 20, 2017 / 11:57 pm


  10. Kitty
    February 6, 2013 / 2:12 pm

    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.

    • Tisha
      March 5, 2013 / 10:51 am

      Use cilantro

      • crazy
        August 26, 2013 / 10:14 pm

        in the chinese store they call it cUlantro. usually on a styrofoam tray.

  11. BCPTS
    January 16, 2013 / 3:41 pm

    Great site Chris……

  12. Melanie
    July 19, 2012 / 8:06 am

    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…

  13. Mimosa
    July 12, 2012 / 7:30 am

    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.

  14. w leslie
    July 7, 2012 / 9:35 am

    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

    June 12, 2012 / 8:59 am


  16. Reecy
    May 22, 2012 / 7:18 pm

    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.

  17. dee
    January 26, 2012 / 11:34 am

    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

  18. Ljana
    August 5, 2011 / 2:17 pm

    Hi! I live in Montreal and i NEED desperately some real sour Tamarind (like the ones we have in the Caribbean) !! Do you know of any places that i could get it from? Where did your family find it in Toronto ? (I will find it when i go there next time!!)


  19. denyse
    July 24, 2011 / 2:46 pm

    We pick tamarind off the tree here in Trinidad……..the real thing…….

  20. Naz
    July 20, 2011 / 7:14 pm

    Tamarind Sauce a.k.a. Chutney is fantastic with hot pholourie!

  21. Donna Buckmire
    July 15, 2011 / 1:26 pm

    Keep it up Chris. I L O V E your recipes 🙂

  22. July 15, 2011 / 11:54 am

    OH YUM I love tamarind sauce. Put dat on a shark and bake with some garlic sauce – the real deal!

  23. charmaine
    July 14, 2011 / 9:02 pm

    my sis normally do this sauce with fish, but i am not sure if she prepares it the same way

  24. Tamika
    July 14, 2011 / 4:35 am

    Rhyming Chef- I’m a great cook (not to toot my own horn lol)but I can’t handle flour recipes ah tall! Bread comes out heavy and uncooked in the middle, fry bake come out heavy and hard like rocks, even dumplings come out looking like flour paridge! Any tips to fix my handicap?

  25. Herwald Rostant
    July 13, 2011 / 9:54 am

    Intersting recipe will keep for another time our tree has stopped bearing at this time

  26. Gisele
    July 13, 2011 / 9:41 am

    What's your favorite island meal chef?

    What's the one cooking utensil you can't live without?

  27. James
    July 13, 2011 / 9:22 am

    Olst Owns: You can do this by using the proportion of 1 cup rice to 1&1/2 to 1& 3/4 cup water. Cover the pot securely and let it boil unopened for 15 mins. Then remove from heat. less water for Basmatie & Jasmine rice more for long grain. You have to experiment.

  28. Taheera
    July 13, 2011 / 8:28 am

    This looks really easy… Hubby dearest loves tambrind sauce and we usually buy ready made stuff- but next time I think I will try this instead!!! Thanks Chris 🙂

  29. deleted4798448
    July 13, 2011 / 8:25 am

    Love the tamarind sauce recipe.

    I've got a super simple question but it is very relevant to me.
    I do not use a rice cooker to cook rice and normally I boil the rice and strain off the liquid when it's done.
    I saw once a chef boiled rice and did not have to strain it, it was done just right in the pot with no sogginess, no extra liquid to drain.
    My question is :
    How do I go about boiling rice like that?

    • Nadia
      July 13, 2011 / 8:39 am

      i think it is like a 2:1 ratio they use…2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice…works better for me with parbolied rice…with white rice it always comes out too soft if i cook it that way without straining it…takes practice believe me LOL

    • Doug Irvine
      July 13, 2011 / 12:12 pm

      Do it this way: 1 cup rinsed rice, 1 & 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cover tight lid. Let simmer for exactly 15 minutes. Turn off, let sit 10 minutes and fluff rice. Perfect rice every time!
      I have done it this way for over 50 years. Old Doug in BC

      • bigneet
        February 29, 2012 / 7:01 am

        Hello Doug, OR ANYONE!!! PLEASE
        Just wondering, I always have to cook more rice than that…(large family)…does your method work with say, triple the amount? asking because from my experience it can be hard to cook that much and it either cooks too gooey or not done on the top!

        • guli
          October 26, 2012 / 1:15 pm

          For large amounts of rice, use a big pan with a lid instead of a deep pot..

    • Sandra
      July 13, 2011 / 12:24 pm

      When I cook rice, I put double the amount of water in a pot to boil. Add your rice. When the water is absorbed, the rice is done. For example, 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water. For softer rice, put a bit of extra water.

    • guli
      October 26, 2012 / 1:13 pm

      Check the package of rice for the water, rice ratio. It differs from rice to rice. Some take 1:1,5 water, some take 1:2 water, some take more. I use basmati rice and it can take from 1:2 to 1:3 water. I put more water if I want the rice softer. Water have to be boiling hot. When the rice and water come to a boil lower the heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Rest it for 10 minutes or more and then fluff.

    • Michele N.
      February 6, 2013 / 9:48 am

      My mother's rice is always perfect. Her secret is to
      a) Wash the rice in tepid water 5 to 7 times to rid the rice of all the starch (warmer than cold, but not warm)
      b) Use the 2:1 ratio as per Nadia for brown rice(!!) (less for white),
      c) Turn the stove on high. When the water boils, add rice, and a little butter and stir.
      d) Immediately turn the stove down to its lowest setting and cover with a kitchen towel and then the lid. Make sure there aren't any hanging edges…I will not be responsible for your kitchen fire!!

      The rice ends up "sweating" as Mom says and the grains are all firm.

  30. Linda McComie
    July 13, 2011 / 8:12 am

    Chris you might want to add a teaspoon of roasted geera. I often serve this with homemade fish nuggets.

  31. Champa
    July 13, 2011 / 6:26 am

    damn that looks so good, it making my mouth watering.

  32. Avalynn
    July 13, 2011 / 4:48 am

    That's a real mouth watering recipe. I just want to add that this sauce is really good to use as a dipping sauce for Accras, turkey breast, and even used as a salsa sauce for my nachos and tortilla chips. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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