Pomegranate powder, also known as anardana powder, is made from ground, dried pomegranate seeds.
It has a sweet yet tart flavor and is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine to add a tangy kick to dishes.
However, pomegranate powder can be difficult to find in regular grocery stores in Western countries.
Make Your Own Pomegranate Powder
The best and closest substitute for store-bought pomegranate powder is to make it yourself at home by dehydrating and grinding fresh pomegranate seeds.
Here is a simple method to make DIY pomegranate powder:
- Cut open fresh pomegranates and remove the seeds. Separate any pulp from the seeds.
- Spread the seeds evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven at the lowest temperature, usually 170°F to 200°F. You can also use a dehydrator if you have one.
- Dehydrate the seeds for 6-12 hours, stirring occasionally, until completely dried. The seeds should be hard and crunchy when fully dehydrated.
- Allow the dried seeds to cool completely. Grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder, food processor, or high-powered blender.
- Store the homemade pomegranate powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It will keep for several months.
Making your own anardana powder enables you to control the freshness and avoid preservatives or additives. It provides an authentic flavor profile almost identical to store-bought pomegranate powder.
Key Takeaway: Dehydrating fresh pomegranate seeds into powder yourself results in an authentic, homemade anardana powder substitute.
Tamarind Paste or Powder
Tamarind is an extremely popular pomegranate powder substitute in Indian cuisine thanks to its similar sweet-sour taste. It comes from the tamarind tree's fruit pulp and can be used in the form of tamarind paste, concentrate or powder.
Tamarind paste is a thick, sticky condiment that you can find in jars. For substituting pomegranate powder, try diluting tamarind paste with a bit of water to reach the desired sourness and consistency.
Tamarind concentrate has a syrupy texture. You can water it down before use or add a touch of sweetness to balance the intense tartness.
Tamarind powder is made from ground tamarind pulp. It has an instantly soluble texture that seamlessly blends into dishes. You can swap it measure for measure in place of pomegranate powder.
No matter which form you use, tamarind beautifully mimics the fruity, sour taste of pomegranate powder in curries, chutneys, marinades, rice dishes and more. Start with 3/4 teaspoon of tamarind for every 1 teaspoon pomegranate powder called for.
Lemon or Lime Juice
When you need an easy, convenient stand-in for pomegranate powder, look no further than lemon or lime juice. The brisk acidity and citrus flavors of fresh lemon and lime juice make them ideal substitutes in a pinch.
To use lemon or lime juice in place of pomegranate powder:
- Squeeze fresh juice from lemons or limes. Bottled juices work too.
- Start by substituting 1 teaspoon pomegranate powder with 1-2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice.
- Add the juice at the end of cooking since the flavor fades with prolonged heat.
- Balance the acidity by adding a touch of sweetener like honey or maple syrup if needed.
Lemon and lime juice lend brightness and tartness to curries, stews, marinades, chutneys, salad dressings and more in the absence of pomegranate powder. Their liquid form does alter the texture slightly compared to the dry powder.
Dried cranberries make for a delicious, fruity alternative to pomegranate powder. They have a similar sweet-tart taste and chewy texture when rehydrated.
To use dried cranberries as a substitute:
- Coarsely chop dried cranberries.
- Soak the chopped cranberries in hot water for 15-20 minutes to rehydrate.
- Drain off any excess liquid before adding the cranberries to your dish.
- Use an equal amount of rehydrated cranberries in place of pomegranate powder.
The rehydrated dried cranberries mimic both the texture and flavor of anardana powder. They work especially well in grain bowls, salads, chutneys, curries and more. Adjust the amount to your taste preferences.
Ground sumac is a common lemony spice used in Middle Eastern cooking. Its bright, tangy citrus flavor makes it a handy stand-in for pomegranate powder.
When using ground sumac as a substitute:
- Start with half the amount of sumac powder as pomegranate powder called for.
- Sumac has a strong taste, so add more gradually to suit your preferences.
- Mix the ground sumac thoroughly into dishes towards the end of cooking.
Besides its intense tartness, sumac powder also provides a beautiful red hue similar to pomegranate powder. Use it to add a lemony kick to meat rubs, salad dressings, rice pilafs, bean dips, and more.
Amchur powder, also referred to as mango powder, is made from dried, unripe green mangoes. It has a distinct sour taste that works well in place of pomegranate powder.
Here are some tips for using amchur powder as a substitute:
- Start with 3/4 teaspoon amchur for every 1 teaspoon pomegranate powder required.
- Add more amchur to taste since mango powder is less tart than pomegranate powder.
- Mix the amchur powder thoroughly into dishes towards the end of cooking.
Amchur powder brilliantly replicates the sour flavor of pomegranate powder in chutneys, curries, stir fries, and chaats. It also has a pale beige color that won't alter the appearance of light-colored foods.
|Pomegranate Powder Substitutes|
|Make your own pomegranate powder||Dehydrate and grind fresh pomegranate seeds for a close match.|
|Tamarind paste, concentrate or powder||Gives an Indian touch with its sweet-sour flavor.|
|Lemon or lime juice||Adds a zing of acidity and citrusy goodness.|
|Dried cranberries||Get that tart, fruity taste when you bring them back to life.|
|Sumac powder||Sprinkle for an intense lemony tartness.|
|Amchur powder||It's like sour magic from dried green mangoes.|
Other Handy Substitute Options
Beyond the best stand-ins described above, there are a few more ingredients that can work in a pinch as pomegranate powder substitutes:
- Pomegranate molasses - Thick syrup made from pomegranate juice; use half the amount of molasses for powder
- Dried apricots - Rehydrate and blend into a paste to replace pomegranate powder
- Apple cider vinegar - Adds fruity acidity; balance with sweetener
- Tamarind paste + lemon juice - For extra tanginess and complexity
- White wine vinegar + touch of grenadine - For sweet-tart flavor
- Caramelized sugar - Sprinkle in for sweetness and color
With so many readily available alternatives, from tamarind and lemon juice to sumac and cranberries, you can easily recreate the sweet-tart taste of pomegranate powder in your cooking.
Experiment with proportions and combinations to find your favorite substitutes that provide the right flavor profile and balance of sweet and sour for any dish.
What's the best pomegranate powder substitute for salad dressings?
For salad dressings, some of the best pomegranate powder substitutes are lemon juice, lime juice, sumac powder, and dried cranberries. They help provide a tangy, sweet-sour flavor to balance and enhance salad dressings. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
Can I use balsamic vinegar instead of pomegranate powder in marinades?
Yes, balsamic vinegar makes an excellent stand-in for pomegranate powder in meat and vegetable marinades. Its sweet, tart, and fruity flavor is similar to pomegranate. Use an equal amount of balsamic vinegar in place of pomegranate powder in your favorite marinades.
What can I use if I don't have tamarind paste to substitute pomegranate powder?
If you don't have tamarind paste, try using lemon or lime juice combined with a touch of honey or maple syrup to replace pomegranate powder instead. The citrus juice mimics the sour flavor while the sweetener provides balance.
Is pomegranate juice an acceptable substitute for pomegranate powder?
Pomegranate juice can work but it does have a thinner, more liquid texture compared to the dry powder. Try simmering pomegranate juice down into a thick syrup to concentrate the flavor before using it as a substitute in recipes.
Can I use molasses or date syrup instead of pomegranate powder?
Yes, you can use molasses or date syrup as substitutes for pomegranate powder, especially in dishes like curries, marinades and dressings. They provide thickness, sweetness, and a dark color similar to pomegranate powder. Use about half the amount of molasses or date syrup in place of pomegranate powder.
Pomegranate powder is a unique spice that adds a sweet-tart burst of flavor to Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. While it can be difficult to source in some areas, there are many handy ingredient swaps to replicate its taste.
Opt for tart fruits like tamarind, cranberries and mango powder or citrus juices like lemon and lime. Herby sumac powder, balsamic vinegar and grenadine also mimic the fruity acidity well. Molasses, date syrup and caramelized sugar lend sweetness and color.