But that’s part of what makes it so great. If you lose it at the back of your produce drawer, it’s not a lost cause — just change up your game plan and incorporate it into a recipe in a new way!
The Spruce Eats explains that tamarind has a “complex flavor profile,” especially when it’s concentrated. It’s sweet but sour, citrus-y but peppered with notes of “smoke and caramel,” especially pronounced in some of their suggested dishes, like Vietnamese Lemongrass Tamarind Chicken. Basically, it’s everything you never knew you needed and more.
Tamarind is at its most tart when unripe, but it’s highly acidic across the board. Of course, this means you’re in for a pucker-faced first bite, but trust us: A little bit of tamarind goes a long way, especially if you’re hoping to balance out the flavors in a sweet or salty dish. If you’re looking for something a little more mild to add to a dish, you can grab a fresh block of the bold fruit at the supermarket, then make a marinade out of it that’ll complement any protein and make your meat perfectly tender. Or, to make your own paste at home, you can soak the tamarind pulp in hot water and then squeeze the extract out. And if you’re feeling particularly lazy (or maybe just intimidated by this new ingredient), you can find a pre-made chutney or powder at the store to add to your meal (via Bon Appétit).