Mango powder, also known as amchoor powder, or simply amchoor or amchur, is a unique spice with a dominant fruity flavor, produced from unripe dried green mangos. While it is used worldwide, it is quite popular in India and Pakistan.
Since we are talking about such a unique blend of flavors and aromas, you may think that mango powder is impossible to replace. However, we’ve managed to pick out some of the best options, whether you’re making a dessert, a refreshing beverage, or a savory dish.
Keep on reading to find the best mango powder substitute for your recipe!
The best substitutes for mango powder
Mango powder comes from unripe, green mangos that have been dried and ground into fine powder. The term amchoor is actually a combination of two words in Hindi: aam, which translates to mango, and choor (sometimes spelled chur), which means powder.
While there are many ways of drying mangos, the traditional mango powder recipe calls for sun-dried unripe mangos. The dried mangos are then ground into fine, off-white powder, which has been used as a spice for centuries.
Aside from the fruity note, mango powder is also quite sour, which pairs well with more complex flavors. It is a perfect mix of sourness, sweetness, and that characteristic tropical fruitiness.
In Indian cuisine, mango powder is an irreplaceable ingredient of dishes such as stir-fries, curries, samosa filling, as well as many chutneys. Mango powder is also the main element of a condiment named chaat masala, which is quite popular in India.
You can use mango powder to brighten up your vegetable curries, lentil dishes, pulses, but also in meat marinades since it has tenderizing properties due to acidity. Also, you want to add it to your dishes towards the end of the cooking process to preserve the flavors.
Besides being used in desserts, savory dishes, marinades, and dressings, mango powder is also an ideal choice for your mocktails and cocktails. This tangy, sour-sweet powder can also be used to rim your margarita glasses.
Moreover, mango powder has an impressive nutritive profile and is associated with a wide array of health benefits. It is high in iron, it can be used to improve digestive health, but you can also use it in your detox juices and smoothies.
This powder is an easy way to achieve a more acidic flavor in your dishes without having to add any liquids. It is a great choice in recipes where you want a clean sour flavor, without that distinct citrusy aroma you’d get from lemon or lime.
Can you replace mango powder in your dishes? Absolutely! With the right substitute for dry mango powder, you will achieve just the right amount of acidity. Let’s take a look at the best options.
In many recipes, you’ll notice that tamarind and mango powder can be used interchangeably. Tamarind comes from the fruits of the tamarind tree native to Africa and Asia, which are dominantly sour and a little sweet when unripe – just like mangos.
However, as opposed to mango powder, the fruitiness of tamarind has more of a citrusy note. Nevertheless, it is an excellent dried mango powder substitute when it comes to sourness and that specific sour-sweet combination of flavors.
Tamarind, just like mango powder, can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is a great spice to add to curries or refreshing beverages such as agua fresca.
2. Homemade mango powder
Yes, you can make your own mango powder from scratch, and it doesn’t require nearly as much time and effort as you may think! All you need is a couple of large, firm, unripe mangos – preferably the Raspuri variety.
You want to peel the mangos completely, slice them into thin slices, and spread them onto a dry cotton sheet all in one layer. Leave them in direct, strong sunlight for at least 4-5 hours (making sure that the color isn’t changing).
At night, you want to keep the mango slices in a warm, dry area, and then repeat the process the next day, as long as it’s needed until you’re left with crisp and brittle product. Once the mango has completely dried, prepare it for grinding by pounding it.
Run the pounded, dry mango slices in a dry grinder until they turn into a fine powder. Make sure to store your homemade mango powder in sterile, airtight jars!
3. Lemon juice
Lemon juice is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to achieve the desired level of acidity in your dishes. It is an ideal solution for salad dressings, soups, sauces, as well as drizzled over fish, veggies, and grilled meat.
This is a great substitute for mango powder if all you need is that dose of acidity, sourness, and fruitiness. However, there’s the textural difference, and you will have to adjust the doses accordingly.
Lemon juice is quite versatile, and you can rely on it in all your recipes, including both sweet and savory dishes. It is an adequate replacement for mango powder in marinades, as it can also be used to tenderize the meat.
4. Anardana powder
Anardana powder is actually pomegranate powder since anardana stands for pomegranate in Hindi. It is quite similar to mango powder when it comes to flavor, as it is both sour and sweet at the same time.
This powder is made from pomegranate seeds that have been dried and then crushed into a fine powder. Just like mango powder, it is a staple in Indian cuisine, and it combines well with a variety of dishes and spices such as mint, fresh coriander, and cumin.
While it is quite sour, you’ll notice that anardana is slightly more on the sweet side when compared to mango powder.
Loomi is yet another fruity amchoor powder substitute that comes from brined and dried limes – hence the name “black lime spice”. It is a great choice if you’re searching for a predominantly sour mango powder substitute, with just a touch of sweetness.
In Indian cuisine, Loomi is a popular souring agent. It’s also a common spice in all kinds of soups, sauces, stews, and traditional Iranian dishes – especially in marinades and meat rubs.
Loomi pairs well with all kinds of fish and meat, as it brings out the flavors and brightens the entire flavor profile with its dominant acidity. In marinades, it is used to tenderize the meat and preserve its natural juices.
Sumac is a popular Middle Eastern spice, made from sumac berries that have been dried and ground into a fine powder. As opposed to mango powder, sumac is produced from fully ripe berries instead of green, more sour ones.
This amchoor substitute is quite acidic and in both flavor and aroma, it resembles a lemon. However, the sourness isn’t as dominant as in lemon juice and other alternatives we’ve talked about.
This deep red spice is also a mixture of sour and sweet flavors, and it is quite powerful. It is an excellent flavoring for all kinds of vegetable dishes, hummus, and fatty meats such as lamb and duck.
7. Chaat masala spice blend
Chaat masala isn’t a single spice, but a spice mix that is very common in Indian food, especially street snacks. It is usually a mix of mango powder, tamarind powder, and many other spices such as pepper, cumin, coriander, and kala namak powder, to name a few.
This substitute for amchoor powder is an extremely versatile seasoning option since it includes many flavors and aromas blended into a perfect mix. If you enjoy this kind of combination, chaat masala could become your go-to spice mix.
Depending on the choice of ingredients, chaat masala is usually a mix of sour, sweet, tangy, and even hot flavors, and very strong fruity aromas.
8. Citric acid
Citric acid powder is a versatile, convenient flavoring agent that has many uses in cooking. It is one of the best choices when it comes to enhancing the acidity of a certain dish since it is pretty straightforward and requires no cooking or development of the flavors.
This acid is available in different forms, including powder and crystal. It can be produced from natural sources such as oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, and broccoli, or it can be manufactured and developed into a synthetic form.
9. Tajin seasoning
Tajin is yet another popular spice blend and it originates from Mexico. It is a unique mix of flavors since it combines dehydrated lime, salt, and ground chili peppers. It is sweet, tangy, sour, and hot – all at once.
This spice blend pairs well with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and just like mango powder, it is ideal for both sweet and savory dishes and beverages. It pairs well with all Mexican dishes, including tacos, guacamole, and quesadillas.
Tajin is also often used to rim the glasses, especially for a margarita or a Bloody Mary.
How to choose a mango powder substitute
Depending on the recipe you have in mind, all of the mentioned options have something to bring to the table. As we said, mango is an ideal mix of sweet and sour, and pretty much all of the alternatives we’ve mentioned offer the same flavor profile.
In case you want to stay in the dried fruit category, you can’t go wrong with tamarind, homemade mango powder, anardana powder, and loomi. All of these spices are predominantly sour, but they also offer a hint of fruity sweetness.
Even though it isn’t made of dried fruit, sumac still belongs to the “fruity” group, and you’ll love its distinct sweetness. Spice blends such as chaat masala and tajin, on the other hand, are ideal options for those of you who do not like to combine spices on your own.
Finally, if you’re looking strictly for acidity and that distinct citrusy aroma, go with citric acid, as it is easy to use and extremely convenient.