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!


  • Great Ben! I’ve always wanted to do something with tamarind. I used to suck on them when I was a little girl! Ur pic is great!

  • tamarind is integral part of Indian cuisine, especially south Indian. you will be surprised to know that we store them in bulk quantity where tamarind pulp is cured with sea salt. you have got a very innovative recipe here Ben :)

  • I also first heard of it when Val received a package from Jenn. I’ll see if I can find some because your dish sounds great.

  • I have half a jar of tamarind paste in the fridge and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I haven’t gone from fresh yet but I was planning to do something soon! Thanks for this recipe.

  • You had me at the “sour-tart-sweet” part. Easy, too! I’ve seen quite a few recipes recently that include tamarindo but have never bought it. And I seriously thought my “pantry” had some interesting things in it. It just shows that I’m never going to be able to have everything on hand!

  • This looks like the kind of thing I was cooking when I first got really excited about cooking on my own. I was a vegetarian then, though, so I would’ve used garbanzo beans and tofu. I remember loving a dish just like yours so much! Ahh, memories. :)

    I have a brick of tamarind in my pantry that I might need to take out for a spin….

  • Hi Ben, Wow…what flavours!! I love tamarind. As kid, we had tamarind trees in our house in Bangalore (South India) & that’s where one could find us. Climbed up high, enjoying the tangy taste. What good use you’ve made of tamarind! Fusion cooking at it’s best!! I still enjoy a tamarind candy…& am quite inspired to move on further…:0) Cheers

  • Cool dish, Ben! Sounds so exotic to me! Even the name Tamarindo sounds from far, far away 😀 I’m very curious about the Tamarind flavour now that everybody is talking about it… will have to go to La Boqueria and see if I find some. Great dish Querido!!!

  • I think this sounds delicious! Guess what? I bought some tamarind the other day, too. It’s in a dried brick shape. I don’t know how to use it. The good thing is, I have it! So maybe someday I’ll use it.

  • tamarind is one of my fav secret ingredients… which reminds me…i need to post more recipes using tamarind.

Leave a Reply