McCormick Predicts Tamarind Will Be The Hottest Flavor Of 2024

Ditch your crystal ball, foodie trendsetters, because the flavor of the year has been revealed. The 2024 McCormick Flavor Forecast has predicted that tamarind is the flavor of the future. According to the powerhouse spice company, tamarind as an ingredient embodies three culinary themes for the year ahead: Sour Power (mixing sour flavors with sweet, spicy, and savory tastes); Thoughtfully Borrowed (respectful use of global recipes and ingredients); and Indulgence Redefined (a multi-cultural, layered, and personal take on decadence). So what does this mean for your 2024 food adventures?

Indigenous to Asia and Africa, but also grown in Central America and the Caribbean, the tamarind we use in cooking is the pod-like fruit of the tamarind tree. The pods hold seeds and a sweet-and-sour brown pulp inside. Though it can be more sweet when ripe, unripe and dried tamarind is mostly acidic. You can find tamarind paste, powder, pods, and pulp at specialty grocery stores, and it also hides in condiments and dishes like Worcestershire sauce. In Mexico, tamarind is popularly enjoyed in the form of sweet drinks and candy, while in India and Southeast Asia, it's used as a source of acid, much like vinegar or lemon juice. It adds a welcome hit of acid to cut through spicy, rich dishes. 

Needless to say, tamarind is incredibly versatile and has worldwide appeal. You can use its sophisticated flavor to punctuate both sweet recipes, like our tamarind and lime thumbprint cookies, or savory ones, like tamarind and dark beer-glazed wings

2024 is the year of sour power

To celebrate the upcoming tamarind renaissance, McCormick has released its own Tamarind & Pasilla Chile seasoning, a spicy, sweet, and sour spice mix that works as a tangy rim on your margarita glass, an aromatic steak rub, and much more. The Mexican-inspired blend calls to mind a twist on chamoy, a spice that McCormick spotlighted in its 2020 forecast. The pasilla chile pepper is a classic addition to Mexican moles, adobos, and salsas, offering a smoky, earthy flavor without too much heat. Also included in the blend are notes of paprika, coriander, onion, brown sugar, and citric acid, adding more sweet, savory, and tangy flavors. 

McCormick is also teaming up with Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beers to roll out tamarind-centric dishes at the popular burger chain. In a press release, Black Tap Executive Chef Stephen Parker said, "Tamarind inspired us to borrow flavors from Southeast Asia, the Iberian Peninsula, and Latin America for this exciting collaboration." Diners can expect sour-sweet takes on fries, burgers, and milkshakes to be rolled out on a limited edition menu starting in February 2024. 

Rest assured that you can expect to find tamarind popping up at more places than just the Black Tap, and bringing it into your own kitchen is a worthwhile endeavor. After all, it's going to be the flavor of the year.