25 Famous Indian Snacks
Snacking & street food are a huge and important part of India’s food culture. I love the fact that it is such a leveler—no matter what your background might be, standing at a popular street stall next to the other customers, you are all simply people enjoying the food, like everyone else.
Some turn up in luxury cars, others on bicycles, but they’re all there to experience the food made by that vendor.
Most street food is freshly prepared to order, served very quickly, and, best of all, extremely cheap.
Not only can you buy snacks and light dishes to keep you going but you will also find on offer amazing meals, complete with a variety of flavors and components. And, yes—there are also sweets to enjoy!
Snacking in India—contrary to in the west—is centered around healthy seasonal ingredients usually correlating with a certain festival or based on seasonal weather changes.
Here are some of the most famous sweet and savory snacks from my colorfully diverse country!
The Samosa is a deep-fried savory pastry filled with either spiced mashed potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, chicken or other meats varying from region to region in the country.
Sometimes it is eaten as a part of breakfast or mid-day snack or an evening snack. Originally, it was an Ethiopian dish called Somerset that was eaten during Easter, signifying the Holy Trinity.
It has spread its wings far and wide across the country and many people fondly relish and enjoy the humble Samosa.
It’s usually served with curd, mint chutney, or a sweet date and tamarind chutney. Multiple variants exist today and some are even served up with gourmet ingredients such as a mix of dates and nuts seasoned with saffron and cardamom and some with ground moong dhal (yellow lentils) and spices.
The Ramadan season also brings in hearty meaty variants with some unusual, or rather exceptional, meats like camel also being included.
Ready-to-fry variants are easily available today in most supermarkets. They feature a fusion of flavors like chili cheese, pizza, and mixed veg, all very nominally priced. Some of the top brands to look out for would be Godrej Yummiez, ITC Master Chef, and Buffet-Veg Cocktail Samosa.
2. Medhu Vada / Uddina Vada
Medhu Vada or Udin Vada are deep-fried doughnut-shaped fritters from south India, with a crispy exterior and soft spongy interior. They are generally made with Urad Dhal or black lentils and a mix of rice flour.
The mixture is naturally leavened with curd and seasoned with mustard seeds, onions, bits of coconut, and green chilies.
It is usually eaten as a breakfast dish along with Idli or Dosa served with a side of Lentil Stew Sambar and coconut chutney.
Common variants include mini vadas, vadas dipped in sambar, and vada served with a sweet congee topped with nuts and raisins.
3. Desi Bhutta
A classic Indian version of corn-on-the-cob, it is often sold by hawkers on the street who prepare it fresh to order. A treat for those rainy monsoon evenings.
Cooked over a small charcoal fire, it is seasoned with lime, chili powder, black salt, and dry mango powder. The combination of these ingredients is an amazing explosion of flavors.
Accompanied with a glass of masala chai, your Bhutta is the perfect getaway after a long day of hustle and bustle in the city. It’s also light on the pocket: a whole ear of corn cooked over coal would traditionally cost around 50 cents.
Puran Poli is a sweet flatbread stuffed with a sweet lentil filling made from husked spilt Bengal gram (chana dal) and jaggery. Puran Poli is a popular Maharashtrian recipe made during Ganesh Chaturthi or Diwali or any other festive occasion.
But this sweet treat can be found across the south Indian peninsula with variations that include grated coconut and cardamom as additional ingredients.
Prepared on a hot flat griddle pan doused with generous amounts of ghee, this is a perfect treat for a cold winter morning. Modern variations call for the addition of nuts and fruits as well.
5. Bombay Frankie
As unique as its name, Frankie is made from juicy naan bread coated with egg, stuffed with mutton or chicken and then rolled up. A unique combination of spices is sprinkled to improve the flavors.
The vegetarian option skips the egg and the stuffing includes paneer or potatoes or mushrooms. This famous and most-picked dish is inspired by the Lebanese pita bread wrap.
It is a quick delectable snack that is usually eaten on the go. It is usually served with a side of mayonnaise and ketchup or green mint and chili chutney.
6. Calcutta Chop
The name is quite deceiving as this dish is more of a croquette or a cutlet than a chop. It usually involves either minced meat or a whole egg that has been batter-coated and deep-fried.
Think of these as Indian Scotch eggs—hard-boiled eggs covered with a spicy potato mixture, then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Crisp and delicious, they are very popular on the streets of Kolkata.
Enjoy them with a mint or chili tamarind chutney of your choice.
I really enjoyed eating these delicious hot snacks in Kolkata and was fascinated to see that the chefs give each flavor of chop a different shape – egg chops are oval, fish chops are cylindrical, and chicken chops are flat.
It makes it very easy to tell them apart. Vegetarian variants include potato, cottage cheese, etc.
7. Dahi Puri/Dahi Chaat
This is a famous snack from the state of Maharashtra but one that has become a staple across the country. The dish is a form of chaat (Snack or Quick Bite) and originates from the city of Mumbai.
It is served with mini-puri shells (golgappa), which are more popularly recognized from the dish pani puri. Usually sold by street hawkers, today’s chat shops are a far cry from those back in the day, with vendors offering a hearty variety of options to choose from.
But the classics such as Pani puri and Dahi puri remain as staple items on the menu.
The round, hard, puffy puri shell is first broken on top and partially filled with the main stuffing of mashed potatoes or chickpeas. A small amount of turmeric powder or chili powder, or both, may be added for taste, as well as a pinch of salt.
Sweet tamarind and spicy green chutneys are then poured into the shell, on top of the stuffing.
Finally, sweetened beaten yogurt is generously poured over the shell, and the finished product is garnished with sprinklings of crushed sev, moong dal, pomegranate, and finely chopped coriander leaves.
Dahi puri typically comes as 5 or 6 dahi puris per plate.
8. Bhel Puri/Jal Muri
Bhelpuri is a savory snack, which is a type of Chaat (Snack or Quick Bite). It is made of puffed rice, vegetables, and a tangy tamarind sauce, and has a crunchy texture.
Bhel is often identified as a ‘beach snack’, strongly associated with the beaches of Mumbai, such as Chowpatty or Juhu, but nowadays found widely across the country.
The original Mumbai recipe has spread to most parts of India, where it has been modified to suit local food availability.
Dry bhel is made from bhadang, a spicy namkeen from Western Maharashtra, and is consumed after garnishing with onions, coriander and lemon juice.
The Bengali variant of bhelpuri is called jhalmuri (meaning “spicy puffed rice”).
A native Mangalore variant of bhelpuri is known as churumuri or churmuri in Mangalore.
Bhelpuri may also be garnished with a combination of chunks of diced raw sweet mango, diced onions, coriander leaves, and chopped green chilies.
Other variants of bhelpuri:
● Bhel sevpuri – a mixture of bhelpuri, chutney, papdi, and sev.
● Dahi bhel puri – a mixture of bhelpuri, chutney, papdi, and dahi (yogurt).
● Sev papdi chaat – similar to sevpuri but with multiple types of chutney, potatoes, and chat masala.
● Churmuri – finely cut pieces of onion, tomato, coriander leaves along with chilli powder are mixed, adding a few drops of coconut oil. Sometimes fried or roasted groundnuts may be added.
9. Pav Bhaji
Pav bhaji is a fast food dish consisting of a thick vegetable curry (bhaji) served with a soft bread roll (pav). The dish originated as a fast lunchtime dish for textile mill workers in Mumbai.
Pav bhaji was later served at restaurants throughout the city. Pav bhaji is now offered at outlets from simple hand carts to formal restaurants in India and abroad.
Pav bhaji is a spiced mixture of mashed vegetables in a thick gravy served with bread. Vegetables in the curry may commonly include potatoes, onions, carrots, chilies, peas, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Street sellers usually cook the curry on a flat griddle (Tava) and serve the dish hot. A soft white bread roll is the usual accompaniment to the curry, but this does not preclude the use of other bread varieties such as chapati, roti, or brown bread.
Bhajiya or Bajji or Pakora is a spiced fritter originating from the Indian subcontinent, sold by street vendors and served in restaurants in South Asia and worldwide.
It consists of items, often vegetables such as potatoes and onions, coated in seasoned gram flour batter and deep-fried. Common varieties of pakora use onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, plantain, paneer, cauliflower, tomato, or chili pepper.
The batter is most commonly made with gram flour but variants can use other flours, such as buckwheat flour.
The spices used in the batter are up to the cook and may be chosen due to local tradition or availability, often these include fresh and dried spices such as chili, fenugreek, and coriander.
Pakoras are eaten as a snack or appetizer, often accompanied with tamarind sauce, chutney, or raita. They are served with masala chai for evening tea.
Dabeli, kutchi dabeli, or double roti is a popular snack food of India, originating in the Kutch or Kachchh region of Gujarat.
It is a sweet snack made by mixing boiled potatoes with a special dabeli masala, putting the mixture in a ladi pav (burger bun), and serving it with chutneys made from tamarind, date, garlic, red chilies, and other ingredients.
It is garnished with pomegranate, roasted peanuts, and fine chickpea vermicelli called sev.
Lassi is a popular traditional Dahi (yogurt)-based drink that originated in the Punjab region. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices, and sometimes fruit.
Namkeen (salty) lassi is similar to dough, while sweet and mango lassis are like milkshakes.
Lassi may be infused with cannabis in the form of bhang, though this is only done during the festival of Holi, which marks the summer harvest.
Nowadays lassi can be found in almost all supermarkets, with Amul, Nadhini, and Hatsun Agro Products being the top brands usually found in Indian markets.
Sweet lassi is a form of lassi flavored with sugar, rosewater or lemon, strawberry, mango or other fruit juices. Saffron lassis, which are particularly rich, are a specialty of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India and the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Makkhaniya lassi is simply lassi with lumps of butter in it. It is usually creamy like a milkshake. Lassi can also be made fruity, and mango lassi is made from yogurt, milk, and mango pulp, and may contain added sugar.
It is commonly served cold using sweetened Kesar (saffron) mango pulp mixed with yogurt, cream, or ice cream. It is also garnished with dry fruits (cashews, almonds and pistachios).
Forget French Fries, Try the Twistato!
A whole potato that’s been cut spirally, dipped in a delicious batter, deep-fried to perfection, and topped with cheese.
It’s everything that your nutritionist would have asked you to avoid. But hasn’t anyone ever heard of cheat days? You can choose from flavors such as Plain, Peri-Peri, Chaat, and Salt-Pepper.
You also have the option of adding cheese. I personally recommend the Peri-Peri twistato with cheese. A perfect snack to munch on while enjoying a walk on the beach or whilst spending time at your favorite theme park.
Hot crispy potato, deep-fried and generously seasoned with a tangy spicy rub, topped with a cheese sauce or mayo or ketchup, depending on your liking. Some variants even include a chicken sausage being added to the twistato.
Chikki is a traditional Indian sweet (brittle) generally made from nuts and jaggery/sugar. There are several different varieties of chikki in addition to the most common groundnut (peanut) chikki.
Each variety of chikki is named after the ingredients used, which include puffed or roasted Bengal gram, sesame, puffed rice, beaten rice, or khobra (desiccated coconut), and other nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios.
Chikkis are made using a combination of ingredients. Special chikkis are made out of cashews, almonds, pistachios, and also sesame seeds.
Though jaggery is the usual sweetener material, sugar is sometimes used as the base.
The preparation of chikkis consists of first preparing the hot jaggery syrup, adding nuts to the syrup to coat them (with the syrup), and then transfer the nuts to a wooden mold, then rolling them to a thickness of about 6–8 mm using a wooden roller, then placing them onto a steel plate for cooling, cutting into slabs, and packing.
In homes, smaller quantities are hand-rolled with wooden rollers. Paper Boat is a famous commercial brand serving up a variety of chikkis.
The term Paan refers to the Betel Leaf and Areca nut combination usually eaten at the end of a traditional meal; this is a practice common with older generations that would consume this snack in the way people in the west would smoke cigars or chew tobacco.
Modern variants of this dish include the addition of dry fruits, nuts, preserves, and aromatic spices and herbs. And even chocolates. It’s considered a sort of aperitif or digestive aid.
The flamboyant version includes the famous fire paan and the gold leaf-laden benarasi special paan. The fire paan is set ablaze before being wrapped and swallowed by the customer instantly.
16. Maggi Noodles
Maggi is an international brand of seasonings, instant soups, and noodles that originated in Switzerland in the late 19th century.
The Maggi company was acquired by Nestlé in 1947.
Maggi instant noodles are popular in Bangladesh, South Africa, Pakistan, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and India and are synonymous with instant noodles in most of these countries. Some refer to them as the quintessential Indian ramen brand.
Maggi Instant noodles are branded as “Maggi 2 Minute Noodles” in India and were an instant hit; this delicious easy-to-make and economical product was the go-to for many students, working adults, and snackers across the country—so much so that the company held 90% of the market share in India. Modified recipes include everything from green peas and beans being added to eggs, chicken, chilies, cheese, butter chicken, and much more.
17. Seekh Kebab
Originally known as Shish Kebab, these Kebabs were introduced into our country by the Turks. Thus, it is hardly a surprise that they derive their name from the Turkish word Shish, which means a “sword” or a skewer, and Kebab, i.e., “to roast”.
According to popular belief, these kebabs were the result of hunting activities of Turkish soldiers, who would take shelter in forests during the war. Swords were used as skewers to roast kebabs.
These kebabs were traditionally made with minced mutton/chicken, chickpea flour, cashew paste, cream, and other condiments. Vegetarian versions of the same are also popular nowadays, consisting of peas, paneer, and potatoes.
Hawkers vend these tasty treats made to order and they are served with a thin roti called a rumali—which literally translates to handkerchief, owing to its thin and silky texture.
Onions, cucumber, lime and chat masala are common accompaniments.
Bakarwadi is a traditional crispy, deep-fried, disc-shaped, sweet, and spicy snack popular in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in India.
It is believed to have originated in Gujarat but is also very popular in Maharashtra. Chitale Bandhu of Pune popularized the snack by distributing it nationally and internationally.
It can be considered as one of the earliest Indian snacks to be mass-produced and distributed. Bakarwadi is made from gram flour dough made into spirals stuffed with a mixture of coconut, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
It is then fried until crispy. It can be stored for weeks and enjoyed as an evening snack. Haldirams is a famous brand for packaged bhakarwadi available across the world today.
19. Lay’s Magic Masala (Blue)
Potato chips are synonymous with the Lays brand, but these tasty crispy potato wafers are seasoned with a proprietary blend of Indian spices and are the most widely consumed variant of the brand in the country.
Taste the unbeatable blend of delectable Indian spices with the best quality potatoes. Magic Masala chips have hints of cumin, coriander, chilli powder, onion, and garlic.
Pair them with some tandoori mayo or a mint and coriander chutney and it’s the perfect treat for binge-watching your favorite cricket match or Netflix drama!
Murukku is a savory, crunchy snack originating from the Indian subcontinent. The name murukku derives from the Tamil word for “twisted”, which refers to its shape.
In India, murukku is especially popular in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. Murukku is typically made from rice flour and urad dal flour.
Chakli is a similar dish, typically made with an additional ingredient, Bengal gram (chickpea) flour.
Murukku is typically made from rice and urad dal flour. The flours are mixed with water, salt, chili powder, asafoetida, and either sesame seeds or cumin seeds.
The mix is kneaded into a dough, which is shaped into spiral or coil shapes either by hand or extruded using a mold. The spirals are then deep fried in vegetable oil.
Other varieties include: Rice and lentil murukku, Light crispy murukku, Coconut milk murukku, Wheat flour muruku, Spicy murukku, Garlic murukku, Fish murruku, Ring murukku (Kodubale), and Butter murukku.
21. Gobi Manchurian
A fusion of Chinese and Indian influences brings forth this dish which can be found across all parts of the country, transcending culture and traditional practices.
It’s composed of cauliflower florets, battered and deep-fried and tossed in a spicy tangy sauce made of chili paste, garlic, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, peppers, and spring onions.
These bite-sized snacks are perfectly greasy and spicy, with garlic and green chiles giving them their signature dragon-breath afterburn.
Variations include mushroom, paneer or cottage cheese, baby corn, and cabbage.
22. Masala Dosa
Masala dosa is a variation of the popular South Indian dosa, which has its origins in Tuluva Udupi cuisine Karnataka. It is made from rice, lentils, potato, fenugreek, ghee, and curry leaves, and is served with chutneys and sambar.
It is popular in South India, but it can be found in all other parts of the country and overseas. In South India, the preparation of masala dosa varies from city to city.
There are variations in Masala dosa like Mysore masala dosa, Rava masala dosa, Onion masala dosa, Paper masala dosa, Cheese masala dosa, etc.
Masala dosa is stuffed dosa. The two parts are the dosa and the stuffing. The dosa is made in the usual way by soaking rice and lentils overnight in water and then grinding it into a batter.
The batter will be fermented overnight to make the dosa soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
The stuffing is made from boiled potatoes seasoned with mustard seeds, and the dish is served with a garnish consisting of grated coconut, a pinch of turmeric powder, coriander leaves, and lemon juice.
A mouth-watering treat from the North East of the country, this humble dumpling has made its way across the entirety of the country, finding its way into the hearts of many Indians.
Thin wheat flour-based wrappers are filled with a savory mix of vegetables or meat and then either steamed or deep-fried depending on your choice.
The dumplings are usually served with a spicy red chili dip.
Common variants found may have a filling of corn, cheese, beef, and also pork. Indianized variants include tandoori chicken or paneer flavored dumplings.
24. Banana Chips
Banana chips originated in Kerala, India. They can be covered with sugar or honey and have a sweet taste, or are more commonly fried in oil and spices and have a salty or spicy taste.
Banana chips are similar to chifle, usually made from firmer, starchier fruit varieties of the genus Musa commercially called plantains or “cooking bananas”.
Fried banana chips are usually produced from under-ripe banana slices deep-fried in sunflower oil or coconut oil. Fried plantain chips, known as nenthra-kaaya oopperi or vazhaykka upperi or upperi in Kerala, are fried in coconut oil.
Both ripe and unripe plantains are used for this type of chip preparation. The chips may be coated with masala or jaggery to form spicy and sweet variations.
Plain banana and plantain chips are called pachkkaya varuthathu and kaya upperi, respectively; sweet jaggery-banana chips are called sharkara upperi or sharkkara varatty. Sharkara varatty is more expensive than upperi.
It is an integral part of the traditional Kerala meal called sadya served during weddings and festivals, such as Onam.
Indians have a strong habit of consuming tea every morning and evening. Chai and snacks are an integral social construct that most families cherish and enjoy partaking in.
Biscuits have played an integral role in satisfying these cravings. With the introduction of baked goods from the many settlers who came to the country, the very first bakery (Royal Biscuit Factory) was set up in the southern state of Kerala, in the small coastal town of Thalasserry.
From humble beginnings, biscuits have gone skyward with multiple brands and flavor combinations available on the market today.
Some of the most famous brands are Parle G, Britannia Good day, Little hearts, and Marie Gold. We do love our pakoras or fritters and everything oily to go with our tea but the ‘biskoot’ has a special place in our hearts.
A falooda is an Indian version of a cold dessert made with noodles. It has origins in the Persian dish faloodeh, variants of which are found across West, Central, and South Asia.
Traditionally it is made by mixing rose syrup, vermicelli, and sweet basil seeds with milk, and it is often served with ice cream.
The vermicelli used for preparing falooda is made from wheat, arrowroot, cornstarch, or sago. The present form of falooda was developed in the Mughal Empire and spread with its conquests.
The Persianate rulers who succeeded from the Mughals patronized the dessert with their own adaptations, specifically in Hyderabad Deccan and the Carnatic areas of present-day India.
Falooda is made with basil seeds, grass jelly, pudding, vanilla ice cream, sweetened milk, and rose syrup. More elaborate versions also incorporate sago, rice noodles, fruit jelly, and chopped fruit.
Delhi is famous for its hearty faloodas.