5 Indian Substitutes For Expensive Western Ingredients

Indian-grown ingredients and crops hold profound significance as the backbone of the nation's culinary heritage, nutritional sustenance, and economic prosperity. Enriching the diverse tapestry of Indian cuisine, these ingredients bring forward cultural connections, celebrating regional flavors and culinary traditions. Beyond their flavor some appeal, they empower local communities by providing livelihoods and bolstering the agricultural sector's economic contributions.

These crops embody resilience, adapting to the varied climatic zones and contributing to food security. By preserving biodiversity, fostering sustainable agricultural practices, and offering export potential, Indian-grown ingredients serve as a testament to the country's rich agro-biodiversity and its potential to shape a more self-reliant and culturally vibrant future.

Here are some Indian ingredients you can use or substitute for your recipes that require western ingredients.

Broken Wheat for Quinoa

Both broken wheat (also known as daliya or cracked wheat) and quinoa are nutritious whole grains that offer various health benefits. Broken wheat is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. While quinoa is known for being a complete protein source, broken wheat is also rich in protein and can provide you with similar nutrients. Broken wheat has a slightly chewy texture when cooked, similar to quinoa. It has a mild, nutty flavor that complements a variety of dishes. It can be used in a wide range of dishes, just like quinoa. You can use it as a base for salads, pilafs, and grain bowls, or add it to soups and stews. Due to its high fiber and protein content, broken wheat can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating and aiding in weight management. Broken wheat is a staple in many Indian households and isreadily available in most grocery stores. It's often used to make traditional dishes like upma and kheer.

Basil seeds for Chia seeds

Using basil seeds as a substitute for chia seeds is a viable option, especially considering their similar properties and health benefits. Basil seeds have been traditionally used in certain cuisines, particularly in Southeast Asia and India, where they are added to beverages and desserts for their cooling properties. Just like chia seeds, basil seeds can be used in various recipes. They can be added to smoothies, yoghurt, puddings, beverages, and baked goods to enhance texture and nutrition. In traditional medicine, especially in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, basil seeds are believed to have cooling properties and are used to balance body heat and soothe digestive issues. Using basil seeds is simple. Just soak them in water for about 15 to 20 minutes until they swell up and form a gel-like consistency. Once soaked, they can be added to various dishes. Depending on your location, you might find basil seeds more easily available and at a lower cost compared to chia seeds.

Amla (Indian Gooseberry) For Acai Berry

Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, serves as a valuable and nutritious substitute for acai berries in various culinary applications. While acai berries are celebrated for their rich antioxidant content and potential health benefits, amla equally boasts a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. As a substitute, amla can be incorporated into smoothie bowls, juices, and desserts, lending its tangy and slightly sour flavor profile. Amla's versatility extends beyond taste; it delivers a host of health benefits that align with those of acai berries. Both amla and acai are renowned for their potential to support immune health, enhance skin vitality, and provide a boost of energy. Amla is also rich in vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties and collagen synthesis support. Embracing amla as a substitute for acai berries not only introduces a novel twist to recipes but also allows you to tap into a local and widely available superfood. Whether its a refreshing amla-infused smoothie or an amla-accented dessert, this substitution presents an opportunity to enjoy a similar array of benefits while savoring the unique flavors and goodness that amla brings to the table.

Coconut Oil For Olive Oil

Coconut oil and olive oil are both healthy oils that can be used in cooking. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, while olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat. Saturated fat has been linked to heart disease, while monounsaturated fat has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for cooking at high temperatures. Olive oil has a lower smoke point, making it better suited for cooking at lower temperatures.

Yogurt for Sour cream:

Yoghurt and sour cream are both dairy products that can be used in cooking. Yoghurt is a good source of protein and calcium. Sour cream is also a good source of protein and calcium, but it is higher in fat than yogurt. Yoghurt can be used in a variety of dishes, including dips, sauces, and smoothies. Sour cream can be used in a variety of dishes, including dips, sauces, and baked goods. 

Beyond their flavor profiles, these ingredients carry with them the legacy of sustainable agriculture, economic sustenance, and nourishment. As the demand for exotic Western ingredients grows, exploring the vast reservoir of Indian-grown alternatives presents an opportunity to celebrate the nation's biodiversity and promote self-sufficiency. From the resilience of broken wheat and basil seeds to the vibrant potency of amla, this article delves into the world of substitutions that embrace local treasures over costly imports.

Basil Seed Pudding Recipe


 1/4 cup basil seeds

 1 cup coconut milk (or any milk of your choice)

 2-3 tablespoons of sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup, or agave)

 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 Fresh fruits for topping (berries, mango, kiwi, etc.)

 Nuts and seeds for garnish (almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)


 Place the basil seeds in a bowl.

 Add about 1/2 cup of water to the bowl and give it a stir.

 Let the basil seeds soak for about 15–20 minutes until they form a gel-like consistency.

 In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, sweetener, and vanilla extract.

 Adjust the amount of sweetener according to your taste preferences. You can start with

2 tablespoons and add more if needed.

 Once the basil seeds have soaked and formed a gel-like texture, drain any excess water.

 Add the soaked basil seeds to the pudding base mixture and stir well to combine.

 Make sure the basil seeds are evenly distributed in the mixture.

 Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours or

overnight. This allows the flavours to meld and the pudding to thicken.

 Top the pudding with a variety of fresh fruits like berries, mango, or kiwi.

 Sprinkle nuts and seeds on top for added texture and nutrition. Chopped almonds, chia

seeds, or pumpkin seeds work well.

 Serve the basil seed pudding as a delightful and nutritious dessert or breakfast option.