Ingredients Substitutions

Ingredients Substitutions

Sometimes, it is necessary for every cook to substitute one ingredient with another. Whenever the ingredients mentioned in your recipe is not available or if you are allergic to some foods, it is inevitable to think about the other alternates. So, its good to know the facts about the substitutions that we generally opt for. But, beware that changing the ingredients from a original recipe will also change the quality of dish. Use this food substitution and conversion chart as a guidelines whenever you are forced to look out for an alternate ingredients.

Carolina Cooking373

Pictures & Collage – by Malar Gandhi




Garam Masala 1 tsp Grind: Cinnamon + Cloves ¼ tsp Almost gives the same effect, I never buy garam masala powder.
Rice Flour 1 tsp Corn Starch 2 tsp I don’t have access to Asian market in my area.
Baking Powder 1 tsp Baking Soda ¼ tsp Honestly, I don’t know the difference. :)
Bread Crumbs, ½ cup Semolina or Rawa ¼ tsp Works for cutlets and for frying fish.
Bread Crumbs 1 cup Toasted bread powder, 1cuo Dry toast your bread in an oven and blend them to make your own bread crumbs.
Store bought bread cubes Fresh bread, cut and toast Cube the fresh bread and toast them in an oven for 10 minutes, over 300 ° F.
Coffee (fresh, brewed) Instant Coffee If you are a coffee lover, probably this idea won’t suit you!
Coffee creamer Skim milk or Powdered milk It a better choice, at least it tastes good!
Green Chilies Jalapenos I totally forgot the taste of green chilies. I happily replaced them with Mexican jalapenos. :)
Paprika Powder Chili powder For some reason, I hate paprika powder!
Mango Powder Lemon salt Although entirely difference, at least rescues your failing recipe.
Fresh Tamarind water 1 Tsp Tamarind paste ½ tsp In the course of time, you will come to appreciate how much time it saves.
Ginger-Garlic paste Ginger and Garlic powder It is a must have in my pantry for emergencies. I hate driving for just one ingredient-shopping!!
Indian Fortified Atta Whole Wheat Flour Well, its not fortified, but whole wheat comes with its husk…full of goodness. It may take time to adjust to this taste.
Indian Maida All Purpose Flour They both are same, only the name differs.
Sesame Oil Olive Oil Though both have entirely different and unique aroma, I have come to appreciate olive oil (since sesame oil is hard to procure here). I use it in dosas, vatha kuzhambu and with podis. Tastes heavenly. :)
Store bought Chicken Broth Home made chicken broth. Throw in some scrap chicken flesh plus bones in boiling hot water and simmer for few minutes and filter the same. You made it. :)
Ranch Dressing Mayonnaise Honestly I don’t know the difference when I toss them in a salad!
Butter 1 oz Margarine 1 oz Probably you knew this already. But I have something against margarine. :(
Vanilla Bean Vanilla extract Its an easy choice, available all the time.
Ghee 1 Tsp Clarified butter 1 Tsp Hmmm, it should still work! However, asli-ghee has its own unique flavor. :)
Whole Milk Almond milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk. Well, this is for vegans and milk intolerance people! Otherwise, who wants to replace milk with anything!!!
Tamarind paste 1 tsp Lemon juice few tsp I use them for frying fish. No one knows the difference.
Saffron 1 pinch Turmeric 1 pinch or Organic yellow food color Turmeric is a cheap alternative to saffron, the color and appeal may be the same, but one can never duplicate the aroma and taste of saffron!
Buttermilk 1 cup Plain yogurts 1 cup Easy to come up with…huh. :)
Chili sauce ¼ cup 4 tsp hot sauce plus 2 Tsp tomato ketchup. This is what I do for my Indo-Chinese food!
Chinese 5 spice powder Indian garam masala Hehe…I am comfortable using this.
Coconut milk (fresh) 1 cup Canned coconut milk I use canned ‘Thai coconut milk’. Saves me lot of time.
Coconut milk (fresh) Powdered coconut Mix coconut powder in hot water to bring the desired consistency.
Fresh grated coconut Desiccated or Frozen grated coconut I have no other choice, most of the time, the local coconuts are very expensive for my budget!
Corn Starch 1 Tsp All Purpose Flour 1 Tsp Unless you are trying to thicken your sauce. As the sauce will be glossy and translucent when you use corn starch. If you substitute it with flour, beware that the sauce will turn opaque!! I have ruined enough. :(
Curry Powder 1 tsp ½ Chili powder, 1 pinch Turmeric powder, ¼ fennel seeds powder, ¼ pepper powders Mix these spice powders to bring the same taste.
Semolina, Sooji or Rawa Corn Meal Both are coarse and looks alike, one can still make khichdi and kheer.
Egg 1 large Egg substitute See the directions in the package. I never used them myself, but my friend swears on it.
Egg whites 1 Tsp Frozen egg whites or Corn Flour If you are trying to fry anything, corn flour can be equally effective for binding.
All purpose flour 1 cup Indian Wheat flour(atta) ½ cup plus maida ½ cup If you completely opt for whole wheat flour, the dish will be entirely different than you hoped for.
Self-rising flour 1 cup All purpose flour 1 cup minus 2 tsplour. Add 1 ½ tsp baking powder plus ½ tsp salt Both are same, instead of buying in a fancy package…you have just fixed it at home with your own ingredients. Voila. :)
Flour 2 Tsp Corn Starch 2 Tsp To thicken the gravy or for binding.
Condensed Milk or Half and Half or Evaporated Milk Whole Milk reduced into half. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of evaporated milk, heat 2 cups of whole milk and reduce it to 1 cup. There you go…kudos. :)
Fresh Mint 10 leaves Dry mint leaves 1 tsp Sometimes, in severe winter the mint bushes go dry here. :( And sun dried mint leaves are perfect alternates or at least to me.
Fresh Curry leaves Dry curry leaves Of course there is big difference in the color, however it gives some satisfaction to me.
Cilantro leaves Parsley Both look alike, so it could easily pass if you are planning to garnish anything
Scallions Green Onion’s white part alone Works wonders. :)
Raisins Dry Cranberries, currants, dry prunes or date pieces It is a better option to have other dry fruits handy.
Grated Paneer Ricotta cheese Works well for kofta curries and paneer bhurji.
Minced meat (goat) Minced meat (turkey) I don’t have a choice here. :(
Basmati Rice Long grain rice But make sure to wash several times to remove the starch and also fry in ghee to bring the same effect.
Red Pearl Onions (Sambar Onions) Red onions large It tastes much similar, however pearl onions may look cute in the curries.
Onion – chopped Onion – grated Most of the onions are way too watery here, so I hardly chop them, grated version works like charm.
Jaggery Brown Sugar The color appeals more or less like jaggery.
Tomato puree Tomato Sauce Its easy to open the can, than to puree the fresh tomatoes.
Vinegar Lemon juice I prefer lemon juice over vinegar. I generally use it in the pickles. In my opinion ‘chicken pickle tastes better whenever I use lemon juice.
Lemon grass stalk 1 Lemon zest 1 tsp Works wonders in my Thai-style cooking.
Buttermilk 1 cup Sour Cream 2 Tsp I love sour cream and prefer it over buttermilk. I use it in raita and lassi preparation.
Indian dry red chilies Mexican dry chilies It may look different, otherwise both are same in taste.
Chickpeas – dry Garbanzos – canned Sometimes, it comes handy and saves you from soaking and cooking to perfection.
Peanut butter Peanuts blended with little oil Works well for my Thai-recipes.
Moringa greens (Indian) Kale & Collard (American greens) I swap local greens all the time. To me kale is a close alternative to our native moringa greens. Some discovery, huh !
Indian melons & gourds Zucchini & Squash You can cook these American vegetables in Indian way. Example: zucchini kootu and squash dhall.
Indian Eggplants Thai Eggplants or Japanese Eggplants Not a bad choice, at least you can whip them up in Indian style.
Indian Bitter Gourd Mexican or Chinese Bitter melon Both are more or less same species with slight difference in the skin texture.
Raw Rice Jasmine rice The only option for me most of the time.
Country chicken Cage-free or corn fed chicken More or less tastes as good as country chicken. Yeah, you guessed it right, I love chicken. :)

© 2010 Malar Gandhi,  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


2 Responses so far.

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  2. Asiya Omar says:

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