Indians do right by snack time. So right, in fact, that there is an entire category of Indian cuisine built on snacking: called chaat, it is full of bites that are crave-able, flavorful, and portable. Few things bring me greater joy than perusing the packaged-snack aisle of my local Indian grocery store, but on days when I can’t make it to the market, I turn to Amazon, which conveniently sells most of my family’s favorites. Here, a list of snacks I stock up on at Amazon, many of which are featured in my new cookbook, Indian-ish, out this month from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Papad (also called papadum) are thin lentil crackers eaten with Indian soups and stews. They’re crispy and crunchy like a potato chip, but with loads more flavor. I love to eat them with my mom’s khichdi, a lentil and rice porridge. My family has tried all different brands of papad, and this is our favorite. Each cracker is studded with big nuggets of black pepper, which add bold flavor to every bite.
I would never recommend buying prepackaged spice blends — except when it comes to chaat masala. Think of this finishing spice as the Indian MSG. It’s funky and salty, with a pleasant tang. Sprinkle a little bit on top of toast, raw or boiled veggies, or fruit (trust me on this), and boom: your snack cravings are cured.
These are chickpeas coated in cumin and asafetida (a potent, garlic-esque spice), roasted until crispy, and conveniently packaged like a bag of Cheetos. What’s not to like? I keep a supply at my desk for when the post-lunch hunger pangs hit, because a few handfuls are filling, flavorful, and not terribly unhealthy. They also make a nice crouton substitute in salads.
Haldiram’s is the Indian equivalent of Frito-Lay, a company best known for its packaged snacks. And this bhujia — savory, spicy sprinkles made of chickpea flour — is the brand’s star product. The sprinkles make great snacks themselves and add crunch and flavor to roasted vegetables, salads, or any dish in need of texture (one of my all-time favorite breakfasts is toasted and buttered white bread topped with this stuff). But snackers beware: bhujia ranks very high on the addictiveness scale — once you open a bag, you’ll likely finish the whole thing.
Speaking of Frito-Lay: the company’s potato-chip flavors are so much better outside of the U.S. These Magic Masala chips, which I first discovered at a convenience store in Delhi, take the classic snack to a whole new level, thanks to a spice cabinet’s worth of seasonings: amchur (dried mango powder), black pepper, black salt, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. I have yet to find a more complexly flavored potato chip.
Maggi noodles are India’s answer to Instant Ramen. Growing up, I looked forward to sick days, because they meant I could eat these noodles. The snack is everything you want in a noodle soup: spicy, but not overly so, with layers of flavor that linger on your palette. And once you’ve slurped down all the noodles, the broth does not disappoint — unlike that in many other packaged noodle soups.
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