Some travellers carry food for their trip or journey—either as a wholesome meal or snacks to munch on at intervals. While it isn’t advisable to carry multiple boxes of food for your journey, you can always carry snacks that are light on the luggage as well as your waistline. There is a large variety of snacks that you can carry—from chips and biscuits to homemade brownies or health bars. It’s usually always a better idea to go for the healthier option by making healthy snacks for kids and yourself. India is a diverse country when it comes to culture, traditions and cuisine and there are a lot of healthy Indian snacks to choose from for your travels.
If you want to make some healthy snacks Indian ‘style’, there are a lot of sources that you can draw from—your parents, grandparents, and now, even the internet. For a healthy snacks recipe you can always turn to the internet, which also gives you the nutritional value of the ingredients, while also suggesting healthy substitutes for various ingredients or methods of cooking.
Here Are 12 Popular Healthy Indian Snacks That You Can Pack For Your Trip:
‘Bimaro Wala Khana’, Khichdi
This is simply a one-pot rice and lentil dish and is made in a wide variety of ways in different parts of the country. An iconic Indian dish, it is known as huggi in Karnataka, pongal in Tamil Nadu, and khichdi in many parts of north India. Khichdi is one of the most ancient foods in India and once cooked, can be paired with anything from yogurt to spicy pickle.
Khichdi is known as ‘Bimaro Wala Khana’ (food for the sick in Hindi) as it is easily digestible and nutrition-rich, making it one of the many healthy Indian snacks. It is the perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein. According to Ayurveda, Khichdi is used for detoxifying and cleansing the body. It is the perfect snack as it is easy to make, healthy, filling, easy to pack, and tasty either hot or cold. However, it is best consumed within at least 12 hours of preparation.
Khichdi is one of the first solid foods that is fed to babies in many parts of India as it features in the list of healthy snacks for kids.
Mughal emperor Jehangir favoured lazizan, a very rich Guajarati khichdi in his days of abstinence, according to ‘A Historical Dictionary of Indian Foods’ written by historian KT Achaya.
This is a Gujarati breakfast flatbread (roti) made primarily of methi (fenugreek), wheat flour, yoghurt, gram flour, ghee and water. Theplas are made in a similar way chapatis are made, where the dough is rolled into a ball and then flattened into a circular shape and fried.
Theplas are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and iron and are known for lowering cholesterol. According to NDTV Food, one of the University of Michigan Health System’s studies states that the steroidal saponins found in fenugreek seeds seem to slow the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Theplas are also said to be able to control diabetes, lower blood sugar levels, and aid digestion.
One of the many healthy Indian snacks around, theplas are travel-friendly as they are easy to carry and eat. They are also easy to make as all the ingredients are found in almost all households, but you will need to give yoghurt a miss, if you’re making theplas for travel, as it reduces its ‘shelf-life’.
- The more oil you use while cooking the thepla, the longer its shelf life.
The Most Versatile Indian Snack, Khakhra
The khakhra is a circular crisp roti-like food item from Gujarat that is commonly eaten as a snack. The primary ingredient in these healthy Indian snacks is wheat flour. Others are gram flour, milk, and oil, but you can add various spices to customise it. Much like rotis, khakhras are roasted on a heated pan, although here, pressure is applied till they become crisp.
Khakhras are considered to be healthy snacks in India as they are made of whole wheat. They are rich in carbohydrates and proteins and also contain dietary fibres which help with weight reduction, digestion, and to maintain blood sugar levels. Khakhras are not only easy to pack, but can also be eaten with anything from tea to jam, sabzi (cooked vegetable dish) or plain.
- Khakhras are said to have been invented by Jains many years ago. As they are not allowed to eat stale food, they started dry roasting leftover rotis to take out the remaining moisture so they don’t spoil and food is not wasted.
The Snack That Made Chitale Bandhu Famous, Bhakarwadi
A disk of dough stuffed with dried coconut, poppy, cumin, and sesame seeds, dried mango and chilli, bhakarwadis are a popular Indian snack that originated from Gujarat, although it is quite popular in Maharashtra too. These bite-sized mini rolls are a perfect mix of crunchy, sweet and spicy, and are best enjoyed with a cup of tea.
The original version of bhakarwadis does not make it into the list of healthy Indian snacks, but there are variations that are low fat and fibre-rich. Baked versions of these are stuffed with flax seeds, grains, pulses, soybeans, methi or dry fruits. They are dry and therefore easy to pack and carry and are available at all farsan (a collective name for multiple varieties of Gujarati and Maharashtrian snacks) shops.
- It is believed that the grandfather of the current owner of Jagdish Farsan, a famous farsan store in Vadodara, invented the snack.
- It was introduced in Maharashtra in the 1970s.
- It made Chitale Bandhu, a shop in Pune, very famous for their wares.
South India’s Go-To Snack, Lemon Rice
A tangy yellow dish made from basmati rice mixed with other ingredients like peanuts, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and lemon juice— these are the ingredients in the healthy snacks recipe for lemon rice. It originated in south India, and can also be made with leftover rice, making it an easy and convenient breakfast or snack dish. It can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to prepare, depending on whether you are using pre-cooked rice. The dish can also be made gluten-free by skipping the hing (asafoetida).
Lemon rice is very nutritional as it contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, potassium, fibre, vitamin A, C, E, calcium, iron, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and more. Lemon rice, also known as Chitranna in Kannada, can be eaten with yoghurt or spicy pickle or plain. It also counts as healthy snacks for kids as it can be packed in a tiffin box easily. However, it needs to be consumed within a day of it being made.
- Its distinctive yellow colour comes from the turmeric, also a strong anti-inflammatory.
A Health-Buff’s Best Friend, Dalia
Dalia is made of broken wheat, cooked in different ways, according to personal preferences. It is consumed mainly in the Indian sub-continent and features high as a favourite on the list of healthy Indian snacks. You can cook it with spices to make it savoury or sweet by adding coconut and jaggery.
This dish is a super-food and a great source for protein, making it a big hit among fitness buffs. Dalia is rich in fibre, helpful for weight loss, a good source of minerals, helpful in suppressing hunger pangs, low in fat and great for diabetics and children. While it makes for great healthy snacks for evening or even for breakfast and dinner, dalia needs to be consumed within a day of it being made.
- It is healthier than wheat flour as it contains the wheat husk too, which is rich in fibre.
The Indian Version Of Nougat, Chikki
Chikkis are a crunchy and sweet snack made of jaggery and a variety of different nuts and seeds, primarily roasted peanuts. These sweet treats are generally flat and readily available in most stores across India. It is said that chikkis were invented by a man named Maganlal, the country’s largest and oldest chikki maker.
Chikkis are considered healthy Indian snacks as the main ingredient is jaggery, a solid or semi-solid natural sweetener, usually a concentrate of sugarcane juice. Jaggery contains protein, minerals, and vitamins and is also a great source of iron and copper. Chikkis make for a great travel snack as they last long (days and even weeks) and are easy to pack, and carry.
- Chikkis are considered the Indian (and vegan) version of nougat, a confection made of whipped egg whites, sugar or honey with nuts and/or fruits.
The Best Snack For Your Gut, Poha
Like most Indian foods, poha has many variants in different parts of the country, and is a preferred breakfast item in many households. The dish has its origins in the Maharashtra-Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh region. Poha is made with cooked rice that is flattened and dried resembling flakes of varying thickness. You can make poha sweet or spicy (with peanuts, curry leaves, and onions), depending on your taste. As poha can be cooked with a variety of vegetables, it is considered healthy, nutritious, and filling. It is a great source of carbohydrates and iron, low in calories and easily digestible.
Poha, also known as beaten rice, is easy and quick to make and serves as a delicious healthy snack while travelling.
- Poha is a good probiotic as it undergoes fermentation during its preparation, retaining its microbial flora—great for gut health.
The Snack That Comes In Its Own Biodegradable Wrapper, Patholi
This is a snack made with a little extra effort. Patholi (which means steamed dumpling or pudding in Konkani), which originates from the Konkan belt (parts of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka), and is made primarily of grated coconut and jaggery stuffed into rice dough and turmeric leaves. The ingredients are mixed and lightly fried till they turn golden brown. While this dish is primarily prepared during the Nagarapanchami/Nag Panchami festival and the monsoons, it is also prepared as a tasty snack for family gatherings and other special occasions.
Patholis are considered healthy Indian snacks because they are cooked in turmeric leaves which have a host of health benefits. Turmeric leaves are said to boost digestion and reduce gas and bloating. These also make for great travel snacks as they come in their own packaging (the turmeric leaves), are easy to pack, and can be eaten hot or cold. They can also be stored for a maximum of two to three days (preferably consumed within two days) in a cool environment.
- Patholi is made primarily during the rainy season because it’s when turmeric leaves are abundantly available.
The Ancient Medicinal Snack, Til Ke Laddus
Til (sesame) laddus are one of the simplest healthy Indian snacks and brimming with health benefits. Commonly known as Maharashtrian til che laddus (as they are originally traditional sweet from Maharashtra), they are round, sweet, bite-sized snacks made with sesame seeds (til), peanuts, ghee, cardamom (elaichi), and jaggery. It is believed that til ke laddus were used in the 4th century BCE by Susruta, the father of Indian surgery and medicine as an antiseptic for his patients.
While these can be eaten at any time during the year, they are primarily consumed in winter to generate heat and energy in the body. Til ke laddus are also known for increasing hair growth, have anti-ageing properties, and boost the health of your skin and teeth and aids digestion. They are a great source of energy. Til ke laddus also serve as great travel snacks as they are easy to pack, readily available at most general stores, and can be stored for days.
- You don’t need a lot of ghee to prepare these snacks as the crushed peanuts and jaggery provide enough stickiness.
South Kanara’s Low-Calorie Snack, Mutlim/Mutlin
This is another of the many healthy Indian snacks originating from the South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) district of Karnataka. It’s a dimpled, circular, steamed snack made of a mixture of rice and grated coconut. Mutlims, also known as pundis, can also be made with rava or semolina. These are a great breakfast dish, as well as filling and healthy snacks in the evening. Mutlims can be accompanied by a spicy gravy, chutney, or just eaten on its own.
These also serve as healthy snacks for kids, and older generations, as they are easily digested and contain carbohydrates. They are also useful for those looking to maintain their weight, as it is pretty low on calories. They are also suitable as a travel snack as they can be eaten either hot or cold and can be easily packed. They can last for about a day or two when stored in airtight containers.
- You can stuff mutlims with a mixture of coconut and jaggery (a south Kanara variation) to make a sweeter variant of this snack known as god (sweet) mutlim.
The Savoury Cake, Dhokla
Originally from Gujarat, dhoklas are healthy Indian snacks that are most often consumed in the evening. These light and fluffy cube-shaped snacks are made from a fermented batter of gram flour (besan) and mild spices and can be had at any time during the day. Since dhoklas are steamed, it is preferred by those counting calories, and as it is fermented, it is easier to digest and improves gut health. This fluffy savoury cake is also packed with proteins. It has a low glycemic index which makes it good for diabetics. They are easy to pack and carry for travel.
- The snack is versatile, so instead of gram flour, you can also use rice flour, chana dal or semolina. The dhokla that is made with gram flour is known as khaman dhokla and the one made with rice flour is known as rice dhokla.
Snack Often But Not Too Often To Stay Healthy
Snacking is an important aspect of a daily diet, as it can boost your energy in the middle of the day or when you exercise. Healthy snacks between meals can help decrease hunger and prevent overeating during regular meals. Snacking is especially important during travel, as it will help you stay alert and energised. Going for something healthy that won’t spoil fast is a bonus as you do not want to risk your health mid-travel. And although snacking is inevitable, you must remember to keep the snacks healthy in order to stay fit.