Tamarind is a new ingredient for me. I’ve been experimenting with baked beans and many recipes say to add Worcestershire sauce, which I don’t have. I could buy it, sure, but I wanted to approximate it, less the fermented fish. Wikipedia gives this ingredient list for Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce:
Barley malt vinegar
The “flavourings” are believed to include soy sauce, lemons, pickles and peppers.
Tamarind was the only ingredient I couldn’t replicate somehow. And I’m totally unfamiliar with it. Wikipedia says tamarind is a leguminous tree, indigenous to tropical Africa. It produces a pod-like fruit. Here’s the tree with its pods. They do look like beans, don’t they.
Here’s the fleshy interior of a pod. I can now tell you it tastes nothing like it looks … it’s sweet, sour, and citrusy. Nothing like the beans or legumes I’m used to.
The only tamarind I could find was in a small jar mixed with sugar, vinegar, and preservatives. One was $5, one was $8. But then I saw this, a block of semi-soft tamarind pulp. The real deal, for $1.99:
Following The Latin Kitchen’s advice, I soaked a chunk of it in water overnight, squeezed the pulp through a strainer, and added it to my baked beans, along with most of the other Worcestershire sauce ingredients.
If you live in a city, try your local Hispanic grocer. Tamarind is heavily used in latin cuisine.