Baking soda and baking powder are different in their compositions and cannot be interchanged in a recipe. Baking powder is made with baking soda with an acidic base so it reacts more. In fact in cakes which do not use eggs for leavening we make use of both baking soda and baking powder. Recipes such as dhokla which need baking soda do not do well if you use baking powder. Baking powder causes more aeration than needed, resulting in a texture that cannot hold itself and hence the dhokla turns out heavy and dense instead of light and fluffy. Same is the case in cakes that use eggs. They rise better with baking powder than with baking soda. Some people like to boil pulses like chana and rajma with a pinch of baking soda. It is better to use baking soda as baking powder will turn them into a mashed substance!
Baking soda incidentally is a good cleaning agent in the kitchen! Baking powder has no such quality….
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