Indian counterparts for exotic foods

With the world turning into a global village and holidays into foreign travels, it is not surprising that we have now started shopping for exotic ingredients to cook up different cuisines.

Fine dining and pop-up restaurants have all but changed along with what is cooked in our kitchens. Chia seeds, shitake mushrooms, enoki, kale and many such food components are becoming commonplace. But if you cannot seem to get your hands on these fancy foods, we do have Indian counterparts that will fit the bill perfectly.

Below are some of them…

Spinach for kale and asparagus

Non-native kale has slowly gained grounds. For a good reason too, it gets its superstar position from being rich in vitamins and calcium. However, our spinach is not to be dismissed either. Touted to be packing a punch of antioxidants, we give our humble palak (spinach) a gentle push in the front.

Our dear palak can also be a good replacement for asparagus as it also contains the same vitamin and folate. Add spinach to your salad today make Popeye smile!

Cabbage for Kale

You can also substitute cabbage for kale. Hailing from the same family, it offers goodness similar to kale. An added brownie point for cabbage is that it helps reduce cholesterol and remove toxins from our body.

Rajgir for Quinoa

Quinoa packs a punch with essential amino acids, iron, calcium and protein.  But if you are looking for a local counterpart, you can give our native ragi, nachini or rajgira a shot.

Rajgira is super packed in antioxidants, vitamins E, C proteins, potassium and iron.

Also known as the royal seed, this wonder is easy to digest. It neutralizes the free radicals in our body, thereby preventing life-threatening ailments. Rajgira ladoos are easily available. You can also add them to your raita, kheer and such dishes.

Homemade recipe for cream cheese   

Do not have cream cheese at home? Go homemade.  Boil some milk. As it begins to bubble, slowly add some salt to it. Remove from heat and add some vinegar to the salted milk. Leave it to cool. It will curdle. Once cool, empty the curdled milk in a muslin cloth and hang it for a while. Try and collect the whey as it is very healthy. After a good hour or two, you have cream cheese in your hands. If you don’t want to go through the process of making it, buy paneer from a neighbourhood diary. Add some milk and blitz it. If you add some lime juice to the paneer, you will get sour cream. Now that is healthy and inexpensive.

Sabja seeds for Chia Seeds

Sabja or the Indian basil seed, famously found in falooda, gives us a cooling effect in hot climates. Both have great health benefits, but as chia is a native of Mexico, it can be tough to source. Sabja seeds can be thought of as a replacement.

Amla for Acai Berry

Vitamin C rich amla is well known to have many nutritional properties. While the imported supplement acai berry is good for health, our amla also ranks equally high. You can use amla for acai berries. This wonder keeps our immune system in a great condition and provides ample antioxidants and other goodness as well.

Regular garlic and pepper for black garlic 

Different from our regular garlic, black garlic is pungent. Not available, worry not. Take your regular lasson and sauté it in a little oil.  Add kaali mirchi (black pepper) to the garlic. Because it is sautéed, the pepper will coat the garlic better. There, your homemade black garlic is ready and willing to be eaten.

Horseradish and mustard paste for wasabi  

Our taste buds love the quirky signature dish wasabi but it difficult to source it! Other than being expensive, real wasabi paste is hard to find. Swap it with horseradish and mustard paste (rai paste) for that similar pungent flavour that hits you.

White radish and sesame paste for miso paste

Yet another component that is soon catching our fancy. Substituted it with white radish and sesame paste. Oh yes, you can exchange daikon for radish.

Now you tell us, aren’t we Bharat-vaasi as good as our foreign counterparts?

16 comments on “Indian counterparts for exotic foods

  1. Meera Datta

    Wow. This is a great write up. I’ll definitely get it from BB

  2. Younus Quadri

    Lovely & helpful blog.

  3. Excellent… Our country has every thing that we need yet we ignore it and run after foods from other parts of the world and term it Exotic. Really nice article.

  4. Shashi Gupta.

    This is awesome! Going to enjoying trying out these substitutes!

  5. Kiran Malhotra

    Thank you so much for the above information!

  6. Greatt! Cheaper substitutes for expensive firangi items!

  7. Very well done page

  8. We have it all around us in our own country , eat local and stay healthy !!

  9. This is a very thoughtful article , though I haven’t tried any of them ,it’s a good thing to look for local alternative solutions ,keep adding , thank u

  10. This is a wonderful info.thanks BB!!

  11. Very thoughtful to put all of these together. Go vocal for local 👍🏻

  12. Smita Mulik

    These just made my day. Thank you BB! And happy Diwali 🙂

  13. Joseph Parambi

    Nice I love the cheese recipe. May be I will try that once. Thank you so much Big basket

  14. Substitutes are fresh and easily available good info. Will try using.

  15. Great to know these information and A+ for the effort. Nice job

  16. Amita Gupta

    Grate, surprising to get different,thank you big basket😁

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