Trini Tamarind "Tambran" Sauce

29.5.15 | Recipe by Renz
A tangy, sweet, and sour sauce, this tamarind sauce is one of the winning condiments for a lot of our street foods. This easy-to-make recipe can have you dipping in no time.

This picture is a blue ramkin filled with tamarind sauce with a few fresh tamarind pods around

It's Friday guys. Another week is done and now for the weekend.

Today's post is all about how to make tamarind sauce. A condiment I am most addicted to. One of the champions of sauces in Trinidad and Tobago.

Trini Tamarind sauce, or as we say "tambran", uses fresh tamarind pods and simmers it down with seasonings and sugar. Some people might also refer to it as Tamarind chutney

This savory sauce is very multi-purpose, just like our other condiments like cucumber chutney, chadon beni sauce, mango sour, and pineapple chutney.

You will want to try this sauce on everything. It really adds flavor to food. And you don't even need to use a lot of it.

How to select the best tamarind

It's important to get some good tamarind pods for this.

You might see persons mention sweet tamarinds versus sour. This just depends on what stage the fruit has been picked. The young, less ripe version is sour while the more mature ones are sweeter and less sour. Ones at either stage work.

If picking these fresh from a tree, try to find ones whose shell hasn't cracked and allowed moisture to get inside. These can start molding and can ruin your mixture.

If no access to a tamarind tree, you can find the fruit at the Caribbean, Asian or Indian, and Latin American stores. They are sold in boxes or packets.


Besides getting the fruit itself, everything else listed is pretty basic things that most people have in their pantry.

This is a picture of the ingredients to make tamarind chutney. Placed on white board

To get the best results, try to use as fresh of produce as you possibly can.

  • Tamarind fruit - you can get with or without the shell. You might also find some seedless tamarind, that can be also be used.
  • Sugar - you can use granulated sugar or brown sugar
  • Scotch bonnet pepper - you can also use any other hot pepper you have. If you want it extremely hot you can include the seeds and membrane.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Water
  • Chadon Beni
  • Salt

Equipment (These are affiliate links)
Medium pot
Mortar and pestle
Airtight container

How Do You Make Tamarind Sauce From Scratch?

Creating tamarind chutney really is some simple steps.

If you get with the shell on, we need to remove the shell. Try to just crack the shell in as minimal places as possible. Remove the casing and the stringy things that are attached.

In this picture is some tamarind pods, shelled on a cutting board

Examine the pieces and makes sure you remove any small pieces of shell that might be stuck on there. You can run it under some water to help remove it.

Once removed, add it to a heavy-bottomed pot and add your water. Mix them together, then bring the water to a boil on medium heat, then lower to a low boil.

Stir occasionally, and press down on the tamarind while stirring to help remove more of the flesh from the pod. You can also use a potato masher to do the separation.

Once the "meat" disintegrates to a consistency you like and then you remove the seeds and any membranes you may have missed in cleaning. You can do this in another medium bowl. See tips on how I use two spoons to separate seeds from pulp.

Using a mortar and pestle, mash together the pepper, garlic and chadon beni. I cut them up to start to make it easier. If you want more heat in your sauce, include the seeds of the pepper. You can also use a food processor.

This is a collage of pictures of the spices for tamarind sauce being pressed

Once seeds are removed, add spices and sugar to the tamarind mixture and combine.

Tamarind pulp with sugar and spices

Tambran is a very tart fruit and the sourness may vary depending on the batch that you get. Adjustments would have to be made to the right taste that you want by adding more hot water or more sugar.

Transfer to a clean sterilized container


Store in the fridge in an airtight container. It's great to have handy for whenever I whip up something really good.

My go-to is mason jars to hold my condiments. My fridge has mango chutney in it for those days.

This lasts for about a good 3-4 months with good care. Don't use a wet spoon or a dirty spoon to dip out some sauce. And always make sure you close the container lid tightly.

In this picture is a bowl of tamarind sauce with a spoonful being lifted


Sauce consistency needs to fix: If you find that the sauce is too thick, then you can just add more warm water. Start with a little at a time. If the sauce is too thin, then you can put it back on the stove on a low boil till it gets to the consistency you prefer.

I also do not add all my water at once. Start with adding about half the water. Or enough water to be the same level as the pulp. Bring that to a boil and then to simmer. When that starts to thicken up as the pulp separates, add more water to loosen the consistency.

Can I use tamarind pulp instead: Yes you can use the frozen pulp. Add to your pot and boil it till it thickens. You do not have to add any water. Add the spices and then taste for flavor. If sugar is needed add.

Easy way to remove seeds: I use a slotted spoon and a regular spoon. I scoop up some contents with the slotted spoon, then use the other spoon to press down to push the rest of the flesh back into the bowl. You can also use a think mesh sieve or cheesecloth, but I find that makes a lot of mess.

I don't have culantro/chadon beni: Then you can use cilantro. Just double the amount since the flavor is not as intense. You can also leave it out but will definitely be missed.

I have a lot of shells stuck on: This happens when you squeeze the shell to crack it. Don't squeeze it too much. You can even use a spoon to hit the shell to crack it then peel it off. This makes for less work later down to remove small pieces.

I need a lot of sauce: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to create more.

This is a picture of a finished tamarind sauce

What to eat with this sauce?

As I mentioned this can be used as a dipping sauce, or as a serving sauce.

It compliments a good pholourie, or accra.

And a great serving sauce with some doubles, aloo pies, or even roasted chicken.

And don't forget wings. Ever had some delicious tamarind wings?

Let me know in the comments. And if you have used this recipe please give me a rating below.

And take a look at some other Caribbean kitchen staples:


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