Sinampalukang manok (sour soup with chicken and tamarind leaves)

My mother has a cousin who cooked delicious sinampalukang manok. She would make a huge pot each time and it always amazed me how she could strip the leaves from the tiny branches so fast. I cooked a pot of sinampalukang manok a few days ago and I found out that stripping the leaves from the branches is a combination of practice and patience.

See, my little tamarind tree isn’t so little anymore. sinampalukang-manok-7

It has grown sufficiently to allow me to pick some newly sprouted leaves for Thursday’s night’s sinampalukang manok. Similar in taste to sinigang, this soup dish is simpler as it has one vegetable ingredient only aside from those used for sauteing. sinampalukang-manok-7

New leaves of the tamarind tree are used. sinampalukang-manok-7

The tiny leaves are stripped from the stems and the stems are discarded. How? Hold the upper tip of a branch between the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Then slide the forefinger and thumb of the other hand down the branch and the leaves fall off. Sounds easy enough but I didn’t get quite the hang of it until I was halfway through the pile of leaves I took from the tree in the garden. sinampalukang-manok-7

The leaves are then washed (if you wash them prior to stripping, they’ll be more difficult to handle) and… sinampalukang-manok-7

… as an added step, I like to bruise them a little to help them release their sour notes better.


  • 1 c. of tamarind leaves
    750 g. of cut-up chicken
    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 onion, sliced
    2 tomatoes, chopped
    2 tbsps. of vegetable oil
    patis (fish sauce), to taste


  1. Heat the vegetable oil. Saute the onion, garlic and tomatoes.

    Pour in four to five cups of water and add the tamarind leaves. Bring to the boil (watch the tamarind leaves change color), add the chicken, bring to the boil once more, season with patis (fish sauce) and simmer for about 40 minutes. sinampalukang-manok-7

    Taste the broth. If it isn’t sour enough for you, add some tamarind juice or tamarind paste. When the broth tastes perfect, simmer for five minutes longer then turn off the heat. sinampalukang-manok-7

    Ladle the chicken and soup into individual bowls, making sure that each bowl gets a nice piece of chicken and a generous amount of tamarind leaves.

    Serve hot.

Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes excluding the time for stripping the tamarind leaves

Number of servings (yield): 4


  1. emy M says

    WOW…never seen tamarind leaves for a long,long time…quite quote you
    “minsan super babaw din ako”
    It’s cold and raining here and sinampalukang manok is a perfect dish at this moment.aayyy

  2. says

    My favorite! Thank you for posting this Miss Connie, I always request this from my father. I asked him several times to teach me how to cook, lagi niyang sagot, “Tantiya-tantiya lang yan.” Stripping the leaves is hard ‘no? My father is impatient with things like that so he would try stripping the bigger branches but when it’s too hard to strip the smaller ones, he’d include it in the soup. Dagdag asim din daw at kami-kami lang naman daw ang kakain, hehe! I’m not sure if it makes a difference in taste but Papa also include the flowers in the soup. The result is always the perfect sourness for us, no need to add tamarind paste/juice.

    • says

      The only problem with using the more mature leaves is that they take longer to become tender. Other than that, no reason why they can’t be used.

  3. julie says

    Hi Ms. Connie, my Mom includes some chicken liver in her version of sinampalukang manok. After the sinampalukan is cooked, the chicken liver are taken out of the pot and served on a separate bowl. Then we mash it and mix with patis. Sarap na sawsawan ng sinampalukan, nakakagana sa rice!

  4. QueenB says

    Great timing! this is part of our Christmas lunch. But I’ll be using the bottled young tamarind leaves. I’m still thinking if I should put in the water it is in plus I don’t think I’ll be able to remove it from the stem so the stem will have to go in too. Thanks for posting this!

  5. Karla says

    Tita Connie, this is one of my favorite dishes back home. Now in another country, I was able to buy frozen sampalok leaves. Is there going to be a difference as to preparation and taste? Or do I treat the leaves as if they were plucked from the tree, after they thaw? Ps-i think I remember that my mom used to put luya in the soup too. Is that a variation?

    • Connie says

      I’ve never used frozen sampalok leaves so I really can’t say if the preparation will be the same. I don’t know of any version with luya either. Perhaps, it’s your mom’s personal touch?