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!


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  • I’ m here! I’m here! …and fast!!! I don’t know what happened but downloading was fast, thanks!!! I love tamarin, it is one of my favorite add-ons!

  • Ben, you hit the spot with this one. Great photos, inventive recipe. Any chance you could give an idea of the cost of tamarin pods at Whole Foods. I know the store isn’t cheap….

  • Hi, Ben,
    Just discovered your site via the WBB and after 45 minutes of browsing and drooling I have to get back to work. But not until I take this recipe with me to try since I still have tamarind and pasillas in my pantry. Great fusion there, can’t wait to try it! When the pantry is re-stocked I’ll be back for more inspiration!

  • Ben,
    I have been looking for recipie’s using Tamarindo for some time. Most that I found were Tai. I was looking for something with a Hispanic Flair. I have not tried to make your recipie as yet, how ever it will be the very next one when I have guest over for dinner. I get bored with traditional foods, so I like to experement a bit and search with similar ingrediants and take it from there. I think that I can honestly say that I have been 98% successful. I will send further email and letting you know what comments were. Your ingrediants sound PERFECT.

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