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Replace fancy ingredients with these common kitchen staples

Your guide to ingredient substitutions

26 May, 2020 by Gargi Bisht

Your guide to ingredient substitutions

You know it’s a real bummer when you don’t have the right ingredients to try out a new fancy recipe you were all fired up about. And even more so now when we all are kind of taking refuge in our kitchens and doing more home cooking than ever before. So, whether you are a novice or an expert, we have got for you the perfect kitchen hack on how to swap complex ingredients with easy to find at home substitutes like a pro. Keep on reading to know more and here's to delicious, unfussy cooking!

Smart alternatives to hard to find at home ingredients:

  • Kale: It is one of the best sources of antioxidants, and has skin and hair repairing qualities. Spinach is a good substitute for kale because of its similar mild flavor and nutritional value.
  •  Thyme: thyme is originally a Mediterranean herb that is used to season a variety of recipes. Its flavor is very earthy and a little bit sweet, with a slight minty taste.  As an alternative to thyme use carom seeds (aka ajwain) as they both contain the enzyme thymol and have a very similar flavor. 
  • Chives: Mostly used for garnishing, Chives is a type of herb that has a very mild onion flavor that is complemented by hints of garlic. As a ready substitute, you can use shoots of spring onions instead of chives Just snip the leaves of your spring onion using your scissors and you have a similar tasting garnish to add to your recipe.
  • Kosher Salt: When it comes to finding an alternative for Kosher salt your best bet is coarse sea salt. Sea salt has large crystals. Its texture makes it the perfect substitute since it provides the same type of crunch, which makes it an effective finishing salt. In addition to that benefit, the flavor of sea salt is almost identical to that of kosher salt.

  • Shiitake mushrooms:  Considered a delicacy by Chefs, Shitake mushrooms are majorly used in Asian recipes like soups and stir-fries. You can substitute these hard to find mushrooms with locally sourced button mushrooms, that are easily available in the Indian markets and grocery stores.
  • Vinegar: If you’re out of vinegar, try lemon juice instead. The acid in the citrus fruit mimics the flavor of vinegar. For every 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar add 1 tsp of lemon juice and you are sorted.
  • Active Dry Yeast: Yeast is a leavening agent that is used extensively in baking. It helps in the rising of bread, cakes, a couple of flatbreads, and a variety of other baked goods as well. You can substitute yeast with equal parts of lemon juice and baking soda. So if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of yeast, you can use half a teaspoon of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of baking soda. 
  • Baking Soda: In case you're out of baking soda, you can use ENO fruit salt in place of it. Just add it 1 1/2 times more than the amount of baking soda called for in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, add 1 1/2 teaspoons ENO.

  • Cocoa Powder: Melted sweetened or unsweetened chocolate can be used as a substitute for cocoa powder. For one tablespoon of cocoa powder use 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate but also make sure to reduce the fat/butter by one teaspoon and the sugar by one tablespoon if the chocolate is sweetened. 
  • Cornflour: The best substitute for cornflour is rice flour because of its starchy properties. Just make a fine powder of some rice and use 2 tablespoons flour for 1 tablespoon cornstarch and you are sorted.
  • Eggs: If you are looking for veg or vegan alternative for eggs you can use ground flaxseed with water in its place. Use 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed and 3 Tbsp water (let sit for 5 minutes) for 1 egg.
  • Whipped Cream/Heavy Cream: You can use Coconut milk or coconut cream as a vegan alternative for Heavy/whipped cream in your recipes. Just chill the can of coconut milk, take the surface cream off the top, whisk it a little bit, and it is good to go.

  • Ricotta Cheese: As far as ricotta substitutes go, homemade cottage cheese (paneer) is your best bet. It has a similar flavor and fewer calories. 
  • Parmesan Cheese: An essential ingredient in a variety of Italian pasta and various other delicacies, Parmesan cheese can be replaced with breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil. Known as "poor man’s Parmesan", toasted bread crumbs with a pinch of salt can mimic the nutty and rich notes of Parmesan along with the added benefit of better texture; unlike Parmesan, they won't melt into your warm pasta while serving.
  • Vanilla extract: If you don't have vanilla extract handy simply swap it out replace with any brown liquor like rum or bourbon. Just make sure to double the quantity of the liquor. So, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, replace it with 1 to 2 teaspoons rum. 

Written By

Gargi Bisht is an event copywriter/conceptualizer turned writer currently working with EazyDiner Pvt. Ltd. Compulsive eater, book hoarder, dog lover and pop culture enthusiast with an innate love for storytelling. Usually the quietest person in the room, Gargi is an introvert who loves her own company. When not eating, can be found in front of her laptop watching movies. Knows a thing or two about art and literature.

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