Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

I remember being about 6 or 7 at the time (for some reason I put a lot of childhood events between this age range) when I tasted my first Tamarind Ball. It was dark in colour and resembled a golf ball that had been rolled in sugar. My brother told me it was (pepper) ‘hot’, so as neither of us could bear hot pepper at the time I avoided them as best I could.

But then a few weeks later, I thought I’d pluck the courage to go try one of these ‘sweets’ as my Dad called them. He had brought them back from a short trip he’d made to Trinidad to see my Grand - parents and extended family. I had watched on with envy as my Mum and Dad devoured them with child like pleasure all week and couldn’t understand the fascination with something that resembled liquorice but tasted like pepper.

The moment the Tambran was in my mouth, I was met by an unusually sweet sticky texture which I chewed on for a couple of seconds, before coming across the odd black seed (which I guessed had been missed). Then came the pepper of fire, which turned out to be more like a tickle rather than a punch in the mouth; it was over before I knew it. I loved them!

From then on I void never to follow my brother’s advice (in relation to food) ever again.

The recipe below is for Tambran sauce, I thought it would be better to share the sauce rather than the sweet/savoury balls with you because it’s a very versatile sauce which can be added to a number of sweet, savoury dishes or even drinks!

I’ve used this sauce in the Bara and Channa which is joining the blog soon, and hopefully I’ll share a drink with you too! Enjoy

Nutritional Value: 

Each 100 grams of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine.

'Tambran' (Tamarind) Sauce

  • Servings: 10-20 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


10 sweet tamarinds, shelled and de-seeded

2 to 3 cups water

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 cloves of garlic - crushed

1/4 medium onion - grated finely

1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper - chopped finely (or more!)


Once you have removed the shell from the tamarind, rinse the tamarind under running water (this is to make sure any bits of the shell still on the fruit are completely removed.

You will see a boney like membrane running along the fruit, remove that too if possible, otherwise, transfer the tamarind a saucepan. Pour into the saucepan, two cups of water and bring the pan to a fast boil, you will see the tamarind begin to dissolve, you can help the fruit separate from the seed by mashing it with a potato masher. If the liquid starts to thicken, add more water and lower the heat. This should take 5 -7 minutes.

Take the tamarind off the heat, pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, leaving behind the husk and the seed. You want to add the husk to the remaining sauce and discard the seed. Now return the tamarind sauce to the saucepan.

In the saucepan, add the remainder of the ingredients and bring it to a medium boil to help thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is at the consistency you want, allow it to cool and store in sterilised jars in the refrigerator.


6 thoughts on “Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

  1. Again, I can remember back in the day, relatives from Guyana would come and stay at the house and bring these ‘sweets’. Delicious, spicy, citrusey…different. I loved them. Our relatives no longer came so I no longer received these sweets. Then many years later, I discovered them, packeted and promoted in an Asian supermarket in West Green Road in Tottenham. So each time I pass it to go to Seven Sisters Underground, I always pick up several packets.


    1. I love your stories! So reminiscent of my own! LOL our food is so much about the nostalgia isn’t it?! I love it I don’t remember the sweets though…what were they like?


  2. Sorry, what I meant was that the Tamarind Balls were considered or described as ‘sweets’ by my parents. There were other foods that were brought to the house or that my mother cooked, for instance, souse (which I adored), mauby (which I hated), and the ‘metemgee’ which tasted bland and I could never come around to how it looked! But I loved roti, pulari, and channa. My parents, occasionally, cooked a meal which contained a vegetable, which was incredibly bitter but friends and relations loved it! I guess being born in London, chips became more interesting than yams or plaintains. Tomato ketchup was more interesting than Encona pepper sauce. But as I’ve gotten older and fortunate to experience a variety of different foods from around the world, I find myself being drawn or returning to all foods Guyanese. Definitely will be following your blog. Have a good night.


  3. Pingback: Doubles from Trinidad, a Sandwich with a Story | Sandwich Tribunal
  4. I had tamarind sauce in a Trini restaurant was just the best. Was not able to get recipe. I will be trying yours. Hoping to recap the taste again.


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