The sour pulp of tamarinds is used as a seasoning in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is sold in blocks and is often softened in hot water, and sometimes strained, before it is incorporated into dishes.

Tamarind is essential to pad thai, and is what “gives it the real authentic taste,” says blinknoodle. It’s also used in this Vietnamese sweet-sour shrimp soup, which ucanahdooit calls “awesome.”

Rasam makes tamarind chutney and uses it as a dip for samosas or pakoras. karykat likes these mixed cherry tomatoes with tamarind dressing, and edintern recommends Syrian keftes, meatballs in a tomato-tamarind sauce.

Tamarind also makes a refreshing drink. luckyfatima boils 1 cup tamarind pulp in 6 cups water for a few minutes, then strains the mixture to remove fibers; stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar and chill. Once chilled, taste and adjust with more sugar or water if needed. It’s “like lemonade, but murky and sour in that musky tamarind way,” she says. “So yum.” invinotheresverde combines tamarind and lemonade and makes popsicles. For spicy and tart soda or cocktails, try CHOW’s Tamarind-Chile Syrup.

Discuss: What the heck do I do with all my tamarind paste?

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