A steaming hot cup of tea flavoured with ginger on a cool monsoon evening, with pakodas too. A cup of frothy beaten coffee on a winter’s morning as you get ready for work or school. A wad of melting butter on a hot sizzling paratha that’s just got off the tava. Mango milkshake in the summer! Sheer Kurma in the midst of a family revelry at Eid. Now imagine having to give all this up! I can already see that frown on your face. Yes giving up dairy is hard. And even more so, giving up dairy in our daily lives and in our favourite eats. But with a little planning and patience, transforming your daily eats into dairy free delights is not that hard. can be quite satisfying. And super healthy too! The only major con is that it would taste different to what you have been used to all along – but its a matter of perspective. It can be a great new flavour that you grow to love. Let’s look at some common dairy replacements in our daily recipes.

Tea & Coffee

A cup of our favourite beverage each morning can determine how our entire day goes, can’t it? For many, the thought of giving up tea or coffee therefore can be the focal point of choosing to go or not go the dairy free way. And there are those for whom this is not a choice they can afford to make. Hence finding a close substitute for milk and creamer for our teas and coffees is the first step towards adopting a dairy free life.

Going totally cold turkey and consuming black coffee or black tea with a dash of lemon may sound like a lifestyle you could adopt. Taking up the consumption of green tea which requires no sugar or milk is also an easy way out.

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But for the familiar comfort in a tea cup, dairy milk can be substituted with oat milk, or nut milks such as walnut, almond and the lot. I find walnut milk has a slight nutty taste which enhances the flavour of tea or coffee. Oat milk on the other hand I find has a neutral flavour but is still creamy. Try a few options and see what works for you.

Same goes for coffee. The dairy milk substitutes work well. You must try the cold coffee variant – the Vietnamese coconut coffee which is made of coconut milk and ice.

Ghee on Roti/Paratha

Ghee on rotis or parathas have been equanimous with the love that a mother bestows on her children – maa ke haath ka khana hits different. But ghee on rotis is not a universal Indian phenomenon. In mid & Southern India where bhakris or rottis or dosas are made more often than rotis or parathas, it was the custom to add a dollop of loni or hand churned butter. Same is the case with the Punjabi makkhan. So both ghee and hand made butter need to find suitable substitutes.

Plant based butters are available in plenty and do come close to the real thing. However we found a simple enough solution at home – coconut oil. Whether you use virgin coconut oil or cold pressed ones, coconut oil is capable of imparting breads, rotis, parathas or nans and dosas equally. It is fragrant and light and is super healthy too.

Coconut oil for edible purposes may take some getting used to. Especially since we in India have grown seeing it as one of India’s most popular hair oil brands. But try it to love it.

Breakfast Cereals and Indian kheer/payasams

India is not so big on breakfast cereals. Even in households where ready to eat cereals are part of the pantry, they are well balanced with Indian breakfast items like poha, upma, dosas, idlis, dhokla, parathas etc. Nonetheless, it is pretty easy to substitute breakfast cereals to be paired with plant based milk.

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For Indian sweets like kheer or payasams or sheer kurma – rice or vermicelli noodles soaked and cooked in sweetened milk with nuts and spices like cardamom & saffron, do great with coconut milk or even nut based milk. Almond milk or milk made from badam is great for cooking up kheers.

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There’s even a kesar-pista (saffron & pistachio) flavoured soya milk which makes a great base for Indian sweet desserts like kheer.

Ice-creams & Chocolates

Dark chocolate does not contain milk or milk solids. However do read the label for details. And I suppose it would also depend on the intensity of “darkness” of the chocolate.

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Ice-creams are again available aplenty in the plant based variety. But a quick alternate are sorbets or water based ice-candies. Ice-candy like the chuskis or pepsis we used to eat in our younger days are great alternatives to beat the heat. Similar water based cola, orange, mango, berry flavoured candies are available with mainstream brands. A quick check on Zomato will also show you more exclusive options for water or plant based ice-creams around you.

What are some of the cool substitutes you have discovered for dairy? Do share with us too.

This blog is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z Blogging Challenge and my theme is Our Dairy Free Life