7 Natural Souring Agents Used In Indian Cooking

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When you got food on your mind, each of us picture a good looking dish in front of us that tastes absolutely delicious. Be it sweet or savoury, we are looking for a meal that is great in taste and flavoured well. The flavours of sweet, spicy, tangy all need to be balanced well in order to satisfy all your taste buds.  No flavour, that is too much is accepted well by the palate. All of us like the perfect amount of heat, tang and sweetness in a dish. 

Here is a list of natural souring agents that will add that bit of zing to your food.  

1. Tamarind / Imli / Puli

Tamarind Souring Agent 1

Tamarind or Imli as we call it. This souring agents grows in pods on a tree. The outer covering of thes pods is discarded and the pulp inside is what is used in cooking. 

Essentially tamarind is a fruit that gives out a tangy-sour flavour.  Popularly used in South India cooking to flavours sambar and rasam. 

The extract is often used in cooking. Here's how to make them. 


Here are a few recipes that use tamarind:

2. Yogurt / Dahi / Thayir

yogur curd 1

Dahi is yet another souring agent used in cooking. Made from milk, this souring agent is a dairy product that is thick and creamy. 

Used in kadhis, in marinations, dips and in gravies, dahi brings in the Khathaas to the dishes. 

Apart from being a souring agent it is also considered as a meat tenderizer, and many a times added to doughs to make the Indian breads softer. 

Here are some recipes that use curd: 

3. Tomatoes 

Tomato Souring Agent 1

Tomatoes too belong to the fruit family and are sour in nature. They are said to be acidic in nature, which make them sour. 

Tomatoes add a rich colour to the dish, and of course a touch of tanginess along with it, 

Tomatoes are used in the gravies of various dishes, in South Indian cuisine as well.  

Here are a few recipes that use tomatoes: 

4. Raw Mango Powder/Amchur 

Amchur Powder Souring Agent 1

Needless to say that raw mangoes are absolutely loved by all. The tart, firm mango, that is just eaten as is, is also used in cooking. 

When mangoes are in season, the raw mangoes are procured, chopped and sun dried. When the mangoes are well dried, they are ground to a fine powder. 

Amchur in hindi means 'aam' - mango , 'chur' -powder. 

Amchur is mostly used in sabzis from the North Indian cuisine 

Here are a few recipes that use  amchur : 

5. Dry Pomegranate Seeds/Anardhana

Sweet red pearls of pomegranate seeds, when sun dried, turn sour and make an excellent souring agent in various dishes. Punjabi cuisine and Sindhi cuisine use this as their primary souring agent.  These seeds when dried turn sticky and hence require refrigeration. Although these pomegranate seeds are available in the stores, there's nothing like the sun dried ones at home. Here are a few recipes that use anardhana : 


6. Lemons/Nimbu 

Lime Lemon Souring Agent 1
Nimbu or lemons are the most common of all the souring agents. Citrusy in nature, lemon are nothing but sour. Packed with Vitamin C. It is rarely cooked along with the other ingredients, but added at the end of the preparation when its taken off the flame, to avoid the citrusy flavour turning bitter when heat is applied. Apart from adding tanginess to the dish, lemon juice is also used as a tenderiser for meat.

High in acidity lemon juice apart from being a good detoxifying agent for the body, also makes an excellent cleaning agent in the kitchens. 

A lot of recipes, also use the zest, as it carries as much flavour as the pulp does.Here are a few recipes that use lemons:

7. Kokum  

Kokum Souring Agent 1
Yet again, kokum is from the fruit family. The outer skin of the mango steen is called kokum that is used in Konkani cuisine, and Assamese cuisine. Thee outer covering is sun dried and used, making it sour in nature.. This fruit has a tint of purplish-lavender that in leaves in the dish it is cooked in. Along with its flavour, kokum also gives colour to the dish.


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