Serpentinas de Tamarindo – Tamarind Leather

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The wealth of tamarindo sweets in Mexico speaks volumes of the Mexican love for complicated flavors. Tart, sour, sweet, it tastes of citrus, apricots, dates and a tannins heavy wine all at once.

My favorite tamarindo sweet as a kid were cachetadas de tamarindo, literally tamarind face slaps, large flat round lollypops of slightly spicy tamarindo pulp I would devour on my way home from school. Then came raspados de tamarindo with sweetened condensed milk drizzled liberally over the top. Then the packets of soft tamarind pulp, then Pulparindos, then the fresh pods themselves, then the spicy and sugary serpentinas de tamarindo….

Serpentina de tamarindo.


It’s fair to say I didn’t really have a favorite, but rather enjoyed them all equally.

The least enjoyable part of this recipe is the cleaning of the tamarindo pods. The pulp can be made without previously removing the seeds, but it will yield less pulp in the end.

Serpentinas de Tamarindo - Tamarind Leather

  • 375 g (approx. 13.25 ounces) whole tamarindo
  • 100 grams (1/2 c)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp seedless chile flake
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Wax paper as needed

Clean the tamarindo by removing the shell and stringy fibers. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the seeds by cutting across the pod above the seed, pushing it out. Continue until all the pods are clean.

Rinse the pods well and place in a small saucepan with 100 grams and sugar and one cup of water. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Cook until the tamarindo pulp separates from the the white skin which previously surrounded the seeds, and the pulp thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Line a baking tray with wax or parchment paper. Holding a sturdy mesh strainer over the lined tray, pass the tamarindo pulp through, pushing it through with the back of a spoon. Use a clean and wet offset spatula or wide spoon to spread the pulp into a 1/8″ thick sheet.

Cook the tamarindo leather in a 200ºF oven until just slightly tacky, approximately 3 hours.

Once dry, allow to cool completely. Mix the chile flake and sugar together. Sprinkle evenly over the top. If desired, turn the tamarindo leather over and sprinkle the other side with the chile and sugar mixture. Roll the sheet, and trim into swirls of the desired thickness. The leather will keep in a sealed container for approximately 2 weeks.

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