Tamarind, chicken and pasta


I have seen some of my foodie friends discover tamarind lately. Jenn and Val were specially excited about this discovery. Their posts made me want to prepare a dish using tamarind, though I had never made one before. In Mexico tamarind is very popular in sweets and aguas frescas (roughly translated fresh waters, but they are drinks made with fruit and sweetened with sugar), but not very common in savory dishes. I searched the blog-o-sphere for a tamarind recipe and after reading several (most of them Thai) I decided to make something a little bit different.

I used some pasilla chiles I had left from my Mole de olla and tamarind I bought on my last trip to Whole Foods to make a sauce. I then baked that sauce with chicken and pasta. I really liked how the sour-tart-sweet taste of tamarind combined with the chicken and pasta. Here is all I did for this dish:

Tamarind chicken and pasta
Printable version
Makes: 2 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Method: Boil, sauté, bake

For this recipe you will need:

  • 6 ounces tamarind in the pod
  • 2-3 pasilla chiles, seeded and veined
  • 12 onces of your favorite pasta
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Clean the tamarind. To do this, crack open the pods and pull off the sticky pulp. Try not to eat it because it is addictive and you’ll end up with nothing for your dish!
  • Put the tamarind in a small pot and add just enough water to cover it. Boil for 10 minutes.
  • Put a strainer over a bowl and pour the tamarind in it. Let it cool down a little bit before working with it.
  • Smash tamarind against the strainer to separate the pulp from the seeds.
  • In the same pot warm ½ cup of water with the pasilla chiles until they are soft.
  • Blend together chiles and tamarind with the ½ cup of water used to soften the chiles. Set apart.
  • Cook pasta like you usually do (a lot of water, salt and basil)
  • Pre-heat oven to 350° F (175° C)
  • Cut chicken breasts in slices and sauté with onion and garlic cloves. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Before the chicken is completely cooked add pasta (as much as necessary) and tamarind. Stir and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

About this recipe:

  • I used 6 ounces of tamarind but I will use more next time. I could taste it, but I would’ve liked a stronger tamarind taste.
  • Although I had some shrimp in the fridge, I didn’t use it for this dish because I am saving it for something else. But when I was eating dinner I realized shrimp would’ve gone perfectly with the pasta and the tamarind sauce. I will try it next time.

This was a fairly easy to make dinner and the combination of tamarind, chiles and pasta was very nice. I will make some tamarind sweets next before I attempt another savory dish.

Have you discovered the amazing flavor of tamarind yet?

Buen provecho!


  • I love what you did with the tamarind Ben. I have been trying to decide what to do with mine..besides juts eat it…there may be nothing left:D

  • I agree. What a great use for the tamarind…Muy inventive!

  • I’d never even heard of tamarind until now…well done.

  • i’m with Andy…never heard of it but it looks delicious!

  • I really need to hunt around and see if I can find tamarind! Your dish sounds very tasty.

  • This is a Greeeeeat idea Ben! Looks delicious! My mouth is watering just looking at those tamarinds!

  • I use it to prepare “lomo de puerco” wich I don’t know how to translate. Onions, garlic, a little chile pasilla and tamarind. Boil everything, blend it all and pour it into the pork. Then to the oven for about one hour. You can serve it with small grilled potatoes. Very Yumi.

  • I can’t remember the last time I had tamarind, but it was in the form of candy. I never would have thought of using it with pasta. Where do you come up with all these ideas, Ben? Wow. I would be very interested to try this combination of tastes. 🙂 Now that you mention Whole Foods, I’ll look for tamarind there next time.

  • I have never used tamarind~ thanks for the kick in the behind!
    This looks good and your tasting notes are interesting. You got me thinking with that shrimp. hmmmmmm

  • I saw when Jenn and Val used tamarind, but I still have not tried it! I really need to!

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