Predominantly sour with a hint of the sweetness you might find in molasses, Tamarind (Makham, มะขาม) brings a flavor you’ll rely on to make many of your Thai favorites pop.

The seeds of the curved pods can be sold as is, or you may prefer to buy tamarind paste and ration it in to anything from soups and sour-curry to Pad-Thai. Tamarind pods are the primary souring agent in many Southeast Asian cultures.

In fact, without the subtle sweetening and full-on mouth-puckering effects Tamarind brings to the table, many Thai dishes couldn’t properly nail the ‘big-four’ flavor balance that the best dishes rely on: sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

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