Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Trini 'Tambran' Sauce

Tamarinds are back in season, and my boy was in his glee when he came back from an outing with some of his buddies and dropped a plastic bag filled with the brown pods in the kitchen some time ago.
Plus, with all the hoopla with the Garlic Sauce song for Garnival, I couldn’t wait to enjoy my own tamarind sauce, or as we say in Trinidad, ‘tambran’, and I love a tambran sauce too bad!

Today you can find tamarind juice in your grocery store or local food court, but the most common thing we do in Trinidad and Tobago is mix the pulp with sugar and make them into balls, which you can find for sale at any grocery, parlor or snack vendor. We even used to buy tamarind stew, which is also a favourite of mine to eat with fish or, as Errol experimented with last Christmas, baked turkey.

The one I’m demonstrating here – a nice pourable tambran sauce – is my real fave, just because it goes best with some bake and shark, doubles or pholourie. 

Here's how I did it...

Here's the tamarind pods...

Cracked open the shells to reveal the tart, flesh covered seeds.

Rinsed off the shelled tamarind. Poured on some hot water and let it sit for a few minutes, then I pressed the pods with a potato masher until the flesh loosened and the seeds separated.

To cut the acidity, I added in a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. However, I erred by not doing it by quarter teaspoonfuls, because it foamed up big time, hahahahaa! No worry, it soon relaxed itself.

Added a cup of brown sugar and kept mixing, then I put in a pinch of salt, a little of my home blend of green seasoning and some pepper sauce. And that, as we say...

...was that. Delicious Tamarind Sauce, ready to eat.

Poured it into clean glass jars and placed them in the refrigerator.

Enjoy your 'tambran' sauce with your favourite foods, anytime!

Halcian's Tamarind Sauce (not Stew)

10 ripe tamarinds, shelled and de-veined
2 to 3 cups hot water (plus ¼ cup extra)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 tiny pinch of salt
1 to 2 teaspoons green seasonings (store bought or home made)
A few dashes Tabasco sauce or local pepper sauce (optional)

Here's how to make it:
  • Rinse the shelled tamarind in a colander or rice strainer to get rid of any fine bits of shell.
  • Place the tamarind into a large glass measuring cup (or other dish), and pour the hot water over it and let it steep for about 5 minutes.
  • Using a potato masher, press the tamarind against the bottom of the dish and ‘work’ it around so that it releases the pulp into the water. (It will start thickening as you continue to move it around and the seeds will separate themselves).
  • Sprinkle on the baking soda (it will start bubbling and frothing as it makes contact with the acid). Quickly stir it into the hot pulp until it disappears. This will help cut some of the sourness.
  • Add in the cup of brown sugar and continue to work the tamarind until it dissolves as well.
  • Sprinkle in the pinch of salt and mix in 1 teaspoon of green seasoning. Taste and adjust your seasonings, checking for acidity and sweetness. At this point, you can also add the extra ¼ cup of warm water to ‘loosen’ it up if it’s too thick.
  • For some extra heat, add a little Tabasco or local pepper sauce (to your taste) and sample again.
  • Decant into a glass bottle – seeds and all. 

Hope you enjoyed this one! Til my next recipe, take care, and don't forget to mind the pot!


  1. Wow this looks so delicious, thanks for the tip with the baking soda. Would it have been better to add it to the tamarind before adding the water?

  2. Hi Martina, how are you?
    In response to your question, well, honestly I have never tried it that way. I've always made this sauce adding the baking soda when the water is in. Really sorry that I can't say what will happen, but next time I have tamarind, I will try it and see, lol. Thanks for checking out my recipe though, and I do hope you have as much fun as I did making it. Have a great weekend! :-D.