Over the years, especially since Instagramming food became cool, the avocados and kales of the world have made it seem like eating healthy is a lot of effort. As we focus on supporting locally sourced everything, chefs list out replacements for almost everything exotic.
COCOA POWDER INSTEAD OF MATCHA
Matcha is said to enhance weight loss, fight against increasing cholesterol levels, and is simple to prepare. But matcha is quite expensive, and the best substitute for it is locally available cocoa powder. Cocoa is from a completely different plant, but one that has many of the same antioxidant properties as matcha. In addition, you can use it to make a hot beverage that will provide many of the same energy-boosting benefits as tea made with matcha powder. — Chef Karma Tenpa, head chef at Yazu-Pan Asian Supper Club, Mumbai.
TREVALLY (YELLOW FIN) INSTEAD OF TUNA
The Yellow Spotted Trevally is from the jack family, and inhabits the tropical and subtropical waters of the western Indo-Pacific region. The typical body profile of a jack, with a strongly compressed body almost ovate in shape, with long dorsal and anal fins. Malabar Trevally is the more common cousin available very easily in India. Often ignored due to lack of consumer awareness, it’s an oily fish that grills very well, or can be had like rawa-fried mackerel. Also makes a very good tataki/tartare/sushi (if able to source super fresh), and hence, can replace tuna. — Chef Vidit Aren, Executive Chef at Slink & Bardot and Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît.
CAROM SEEDS (AJWAIN) INSTEAD OF THYME OR OREGANO
The base oil in thyme and oregano is similar to the one in carom seeds. But carom seeds needs to be used in smaller quantity than oregano since a larger amount of it makes it pungent. Cooking wise, carom seeds can be used for its woody flavour in European cuisine. Additionally, in ancient Ayurveda, it is used for its digestive properties. — Zainab Burmawalla, co-founder of Paushtik, a spice brand.
PINK INDIAN GOOSEBERRY (PINK AMLA) INSTEAD OF AÇAÍ
Pink Amla, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, can be used to make health juices, face, and hair packs instead of Açaí berries, which are not that easy to find and exotic. Pink Amla also has anti-ageing properties, and helps control blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of heart diseases. — Manpreet Dhody, Head, Foodhall Cookery Studio.
GHEE INSTEAD OF OLIVE OIL
Fat was once maligned as a healthy diet’s greatest foe, and in the world of the many healthy fats out there, ghee and olive oil are the individual darlings of the culinary worlds of the Mediterranean and India. With a higher smoking point, ghee makes for a perfect alternative for olive oil, especially when pan frying, baking, or cooking on high heat. It melts quickly, and adds a buttery, creamy, and nutty texture to food. — Karishma Sakhrani, chef and hospitality consultant
GREEN PEAS INSTEAD OF EDAMAME
Green peas work great in place of edamame. Green peas are locally grown and full of plant protein, and are much kinder to your pocket. They can be used in making hummus, pesto, or added to a fried rice recipe, the list is endless. —Chef Raveena Taurani, founder of Yogisattva Café.
RED RICE INSTEAD OF QUINOA
While people often think that rice is the enemy of good health, it’s really not. Hence when quinoa came into the picture, people readily embraced the superfood with open arms. However, red rice, grown locally in Kerala, is a nutritious substitute for the same. Red rice is able to retain its vitamins, minerals, and natural fiber as it retains its nutrient-rich outer coating, which white rice does not do. Hand-pound red rice is extremely versatile as is quinoa, and can be used to cook anything from risotto to puddings. — Chef Monaz Irani, founder of Plate & Pint.