Have you ever gone to bed dreaming of big tubs of cream cheese and woken up with the very same image still playing on your mind? No? Never obsessed over an ingredient that Mumbai just refused to let you find? Still no? Ever prayed that you would find a cheaper version of atrociously priced imported blueberries and be lucky enough to get more than 6 in a box? I knew it.
Over the last three years, I’ve discovered various stores, websites and blogs that helped me find all sorts of ingredients that made The Desserted Girl possible.I’ve also been asked multiple times about where to find cooking chocolate, cream cheese, frozen fruits and a whole bunch more. I decided it was time to give back and create a little ingredient sourcing list of my own, one that would hopefully help you find an elusive food of some kind.
This list is in no way exhaustive, I’ll add more information as I find it, so feel free to add your tips in the comments below, everyone could use them!
P.S. This post contains no affiliate links, I’m simply recommending the brands I use and love.
I buy a lot of my ingredients online. It’s convenient and with a full-time job, I really don’t want to spend my weekend in long supermarket queues. Big Basket, Foodesto and Nature’s Basket are my first options and most of the ingredients listed here are available on one or the other website.
Update: I discovered this brand called Lucky Vitamin which seems to have tons of baking stuff and they’re now shipping to India!
I use regular Amul butter 99.999% of the time, available literally everywhere and very affordable. I like the 100 gm packs for easy measurement.
I did go through a phase where I thought white unsalted butter was the only way to go because it is much fresher than the salted variety, and if you feel this way, or intend on frosting cupcakes with it, most dairies will help you out. Also, Nature’s Basket and Food Hall both stock Parsi Dairy white butter, about INR 400 for a 500 gm tub.
I use Britannia Cream Cheese as and when I can find it either online (see above), big supermarkets or gourmet stores. The place I’ve had most luck at is King Plaza Supermarket in Cuffe Parade, INR 200 for a 180 gm tub. I usually snatch up a few boxes and keep them in my fridge. La Cremella and Impero are both good options too, priced roughly the same as Britannia.
Philadelphia is far too expensive for a food blogger who loves cheesecake abnormal amounts. It is however available at most gourmet food stores and for some reason, stored out in the sunlight at Arife, Crawford Market and Bandra. You could also try Arla and Quescream, both expensive but acceptable once in a while 🙂
Do not try and use Amul fresh cream (blue carton) as a substitute, it will not work. Whipping cream has a much higher fat content and therefore whips up into fabulous peaks.
Amul actually does have whipping cream, look out for the red carton. INR 200 for 1 Litre. This wasn’t easy to find, but I got my hands on it at Reliance Fresh. It is available online on Zopnow and Big Basket but isn’t always in stock. Nature’s Basket and Food Hall stock far more expensive varieties too. If you do find it, buy the smaller 200 ml cartons because dairy-based whipping cream cannot be stored in the fridge for long and does go waste.
For longer-lasting, non-dairy options, check out Rich and Tropolite at Arife, Crawford Market.
Oh dear God. This ingredient. Unless you’re willing to shell out huge amounts of money to buy imported slabs of cooking chocolate on Amazon, I do have a solution.
If you’re a purist, look away now because I survive on Morde and other local brands that I can get my hands on. When you use cooking chocolate as often as I do, economics does come into play. I find Morde more than suitable in terms of flavour and ease of use and I’ve never regretted using it. Priced at about INR 200 for a 500 gm slab, this works very well for me. It comes in dark, milk and white compound varieties.
I used to get Morde at King Plaza Supermarket in Cuffe Parade, but I’ve also bought it at Nature’s Basket and these days, it’s available online too.
Updated: My new go-to option is Mii Spezial Coverture, available on Big Basket, INR 200 for 200 gms. More expensive than Morde, but sooooo much better. Food Hall also sells its own brand of cooking chocolate but that is extremely pricey and would not be my regular option.
Ok, I have a confession. I ask family and friends coming to India to get me bags of Hershey’s, Nestle or Ghirardelli chocolate chips because for the life of me, I don’t know where you get them here. They are available online, but they aren’t cheap.
Arife does stock dark chocolate chips but the flavour just isn’t the same and I think unlike cooking chocolate that is melted down with so many other things, because chips stand out by themselves, how they taste is really important.
If you have suggestions, don’t be shy! Leave a comment below 🙂
I use either Cadbury or Hershey’s (INR 250 for 225 gms), both available online, at big supermarkets and gourmet food stores.
There is a difference between Dutch process and natural cocoa powder, but both these brands are the natural kind and I’ve never had an issue using them in place of Dutch process, though I know it’s frowned upon. My house hasn’t blown up yet so something must be right?
I was guilty of using the little imitation bottles for a while and I know they’re cheap and seem like the easy solution. They are. But organic, pure vanilla extract is available these days and is not a bad investment considering it lasts for a while. My favourite is Sprig and at the moment, I’m using McCormick’s from the US. You could even make your own!
Sprig sells these online and you can buy them at Fab India and Nature’s Basket. If you make a trip to Coorg or Kerala, be sure to pick up some vanilla beans there, they’re the best 🙂
I use Blue Bird caster sugar (INR 34 for 200 gms) and you can even order their stuff online. Caster sugar is what I use in pretty much everything because it melts down faster and better than granulated sugar. I also like Mawana caster sugar (INR 82 for 500 gms).
For brown sugar, I like Mawana (INR 85 for 500 gms) more than Blue Bird, it’s softer and melts easier.
Your favourite brand of atta (wholewheat flour) and maida (all-purpose flour) is absolutely fine to use. I buy Madam maida and off late, the organic Tattva brand. For wholewheat flour, I now use freshly ground wheat grains.
Nature’s Basket stocks barley flour by Conscious Foods which is great for nuttier, softer baked goods, not to mention healthier.
For oat flour, just grind up your favourite cooking oats in a blender, it makes an amazing substitute in things like pancakes!
Nuts and Dried Fruits
There’s really no way out, these do cost money. But they are easily available online and in all supermarkets and gourmet food stores, so yay!
I do like to buy flaked almonds from Urban Platter, they make a pretty garnish and this is a much easier option than blanching, peeling and slicing at home 🙂
Blue Bird active dry yeast is my go-to option and I’ve never faced any major issues. INR 25 for 25 gms.
Imported brands will cost you an arm and leg. Thankfully, funky organic brands in India now make and sell gourmet cheeses at affordable prices. Check out Kodai, ABC Farms, Imperio and Mooz cheeses on Foodesto, at Nature’s Basket, Food Hall and Regal Plus in Bandra.
After hunting like a crazy person, Regal Plus in Bandra came to my rescue and even agreed to deliver a 1kg bag of frozen blueberries (INR 800) at my workplace. They have all sorts of other berry awesomeness so give them a call and never feel despair again 🙂
We do have indigenously grown blueberries in Ooty, but these are seasonal and not easily available here, so if anyone does have a heads-up on this, leave a comment below!
All other fruits
I like Valencia oranges (available on Big Basket) for zesting and juicing. Look for the bright orange, firm skinned ones at fruit vendors or supermarkets.
Seasonal fruits are of course available at local vendors and much cheaper than gourmet food stores. You will also find these on online grocery sites.
I don’t use these often, but cheap options are available at local grocers and organic, natural ones by Sprig are at Food Hall and Nature’s Basket.
Both fresh and dried herbs are available at Nature’s Basket, Food Hall and at online grocers.
Also called ladyfingers, I found these online on Foodesto and later at Food Hall. Not very cheap, but worth a one-time investment because tiramisu is that good 😀
Not ingredients, technically, but you don’t have to spend a bomb to be able to bake amazing stuff right at home. Once again, I’ve come across excellent quality and prices online: Fab Furnish, Amazon and Zansaar.
Oven: I own a Morphy Richards 22 ltr OTG and it’s like an extension of me. I love it to bits <3 The oven came with a wire wrack and baking tray. Once the surface of the tray began to get a bit old, I bought the funnest silicon sheet on Amazon and continue using it happily. A well-greased tray means you do not need to always have parchment paper or silicone sheets around but they do come in handy.
Baking pans: Arife has all kinds of pans, but I would recommend investing just a bit more to get quality stuff. Their springform ones are the ones I would really stay away from. All kinds of baking pans are now available online and at Food Hall. I’m talking springform, donut pans, muffin trays, loaf tins and square baking tins. Norpro, Wilton and Baker’s Secret are good brands.
Mixing bowls: These are crucial if you don’t have a stand-mixer (I do have one now, but never felt like I was missing out before). Along with a good hand mixer, you’ll never have trouble making a large cake batter if you have a deep, sturdy mixing bowl. Borosil is my favourite here, I have a set of two great glass bowls.
Hand-mixer: I have an Orpat hand-mixer and it comes with dough hooks. So far, no complaints, it works great for beating, whipping and light mixing.
Crockery, cutlery, jars and bottles: Ceramic Corner opposite Shopper’s Stop in Bandra is a goldmine for the cutest hand-painted dishes. I also buy stuff online at Chumbak and at Fab India. Le Creuset is terribly expensive but their dishes are so beautiful, I don’t think I can hold back much longer 🙂
Cupcake Liners: Arife (but don’t expect very high quality and they usually sell wholesale), Food Hall and Debenhams (which sadly shut down) all have great options and a ton of variety. Look online for cute designs and more reasonable quantities per pack.
Measuring Cups and Spoons: I have two sets, one from a local utensil shop and one from the UK. Both are the standard sized cups and I’ve never had a recipe go wrong with them. Many, many options are now available online.
Kitchen Scales: I love the one I have from Fab Furnish and recommend having kitchen scales, not necessarily a terribly expensive one. Many bakers recommend weight measures and so this is a useful thing to have around.