Tamarind is a key ingredient in many Indian dishes. Tamarind contributes a bright sour flavor that complements a range of herbs and spices used in Indian cuisine, but only if you use it in moderation. Excessive sourness will distract from other flavors and may even make the dish inedible. Here are some solutions to rescue your meal if you have used too much tamarind.
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The most useful solution when you add too much of any flavor to a dish is always to dilute it, and this works for tamarind’s sour flavor as well. If the flavor can be diluted, this gives you the best shot at rescuing the dish. The way to dilute the flavor of too much tamarind is to add more of everything else.
Of course, this comes with some problems, like the fact that you may wind up with more food than you need. You can limit the waste by dividing the food with too much tamarind into two portions and freezing one half to dilute later. Add more of every other ingredient aside from tamarind until the dish doesn’t taste too sour anymore. Dilution involves using more of all the ingredients, which makes the dish more expensive. If you want other ways to balance the tamarind flavor, try one of the options below.
Add a sweetener
Too much tamarind will make your dish extremely sour. Sweeteners often get recommended for counteracting unwanted sourness, but you will want to be careful with them. While adding a sweetener like sugar or honey can help a dish that is slightly too sour, it won’t balance intense sourness. Sweet doesn’t automatically balance sour flavors, as many people believe.
If you try to counteract extreme sourness with sweeteners, you might wind up with extreme sweetness instead. In some cases, the dish may be too sweet and too sour at the same time. If you have used too much tamarind, you may want to try a subtly sweet ingredient. Caramelized onions can add a mild sweetness along with some umami. If those work in your dish, you might be able to take the tamarind’s acidic edge off the dish and make it palatable again.
Add baking soda
Tamarind’s sour flavor comes from the acids it contains. High acidity means a low pH, and the way that you raise pH is with a base. In other words, the true opposite of a sour flavor is a base like baking soda rather than a sweetener. If you are going to add baking soda to a dish, you will need to do it in tiny amounts since it has a distinctive flavor. Too much may make your food taste chalky and salty.
Salt is a common solution for the kind of extreme sourness that you will get from too much tamarind. It works by masking the acidic taste, but you will want to be careful how much you add because of salt’s negative health effects.
An old trick for counteracting any strong flavor in a dish is to add potatoes to it. Potatoes can work if you have used too much tamarind in a curry. Dice some potatoes and add them to the dish to cook for a while. Remove the potatoes before serving the dish. The potatoes will absorb much of the sourness. The rest of the dish should be far less acidic.