A Glimpse of Indian Snacks

It is around six in the evening, you are hungry but don’t wish to eat dinner so early. You search for food but nothing in the refrigerator and you don’t want to make something labor-intensive. So the best option available for you is to grab a snack. Snacks are quick munchies available nowadays as processed and packaged food and it is also less tedious to make at home. Snack food are often smaller in size than a full meal and thus, requires lesser ingredients. Some might argue that they are unhealthy, but if it is made with fresh ingredients and less oil or cheese they can be healthy hunger appeasers. In fact, it is said that six-meals in a form of nutritious snacks is healthier and revs up the metabolism rate.

India has its own snacks with a diverse variety to select from it’s northern, eastern, western and southern regions. Although, fast food such as pizzas, burgers, chips and fries are popular amongst the urban youth, the locally made samosas, pakoras, aloo bondas and mirchi bajjis are consumed equally by children and adults. These are popular street food found in every corner of a market or a busy street.

Samosas are vegetable stuffed triangular pastries that are deep-fried and savored with spicy tamarind and mint chutneys. These are usually made out of mashed potato fillings placed on flour sheets, wrapped and fried. It also has a non-vegetarian variation made with minced lamb.

There are quite a few appetizers prepared out of gram flour, made from chickpeas or gorbanzos. Mirchi bajjis are stuffed green chilies rolled in gram flour batter that are fried until golden brown. As the seeds inside the chilies are removed they tend to lose the spice and so are not as hot as you would expect. These are typical appetizers made in Andhra and Kannadiga households garnished with a topping of peanuts and onions with a dash of lime and coriander on them. These are relished with coconut chutney. A similar snack made in North India are Pakoras. In this recipe instead of chilies other vegetables such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, paneer (cottage cheese) and even bread pieces are used by dipping them in flour batter and then fried. These are extremely popular during monsoon season and is one of the best snacks for tea time. These are known as fritters in other countries where they are made with corn, shrimps or eggplants. Pakoras are also used to make Kadhi, a chickpea flour based curry with yogurt mix, in the northern part of India. The difference between bajji and pakora is that bajjis are deep fried and are softer whereas pakoras are crispy and also the accompaniments served with them differ.

Bondas are again a common South Indian snack having a sweet and a spicy version. The spicy version is made of mashed potatoes mixed with salt and chilly powder, rolled in gram flour batter and shaped as small balls. It is also one of the famous street foods in Mumbai wherein it is known as Batata Vada. In Kerala and Udupi cuisines, Tapioca and grated coconut is used instead of the potatoes. The sweet variant is made from cooked Urad Dal (black grams) and jaggery and is called as Sugiyan in malayalam and poornalu in telugu.

Another indulging snacks are Momos. Although, it has originated in Tibet, Momos are abundantly consumed in the North-Eastern states of India due to cross-border trade and influx of Tibetans in this region. They are dumplings made from meat and vegetables which are mostly steamed but a fried version is also prepared. Steamed momos served with hot tomato sauce is called as the C-Momo.

These are just a glimpse of the vast range of snacks made in India and are popular throughout the world. Once you nibble on of these delicious food you would crave for others as well.

Photos courtesy Kirsten Wallerstedt

Snacks pictures


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