can someone please tell me what this item is

pete

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I agree with cheflayne, it looks like a block of tamarind.  Those look like the seeds in there.  I used to get those blocks.  We'd soak them in hot water then press them through a strainer to remove the seeds and fiber, leaving us with just the pulp to use.
 

norcalbaker59

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Tamarind is an essential ingredient for Pad Thai if you enjoy Thai food. It's used in Indian cooking as well, mainly in curries and sauces.
 
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I use tamarind concentrate from the Indian grocery. It's a lot less work! and I think the flavour's more intense.
 
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