Which is the most healthy roadside snack to eat in India?
Aug, 2 2023
Discover the Nutritious Powerhouse of Indian Roadside Snacks
I often find myself strolling down the bustling lanes of India, a symphony of horns from passing rickshaws, shouts of vendors announcing their goods, and the delightful aroma of Indian spices swirling around me. Occasionally, I stop in my tracks, caught by a particularly mouthwatering scent. That’s usually when I spot a roadside snack vendor, a common sight indistinguishable from the essence of street life in India. Now I bet you're thinking, ‘Aarav, you’re all about health and fitness, how do you justify munching on roadside treats?’ That's exactly what this symposium of a read is all about.
The Unseen Health Benefits of Pani Puri
Watch any Indian movie, and you will find at least one scene where the characters are huddling around a Pani Puri stall, mouths watering at the sight of the tangy, spicy, and utterly delicious snack. But did you know that Pani Puri can also be a healthier option for a snack? Yes, you read correctly! Known as Golgappa in North India and Puchka in the East, this delightful snack consists of a hollow, fried ball filled with a mixture of flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas.
What makes Pani Puri a relatively healthy snack is its portions and ingredients. The flavorsome water in Pani Puri, as well as its filling, contain digestive spices and herbs like cumin, mint, and tamarind that boost digestion and metabolism. These benefits of digestion and metabolism are factors that most people overlook, much easier to do when you're trying to make sense of that burst of flavors in your mouth.
Radhika and I often have our share of the cultural battle of Mumbai’s pani puri versus Delhi’s golgappe. Nonetheless, we always agree on its taste and somewhat concealed health benefits. On lazy Sunday afternoons, we find ourselves standing beside our favorite Pani Puri vendor, each arguing that our city does it better, but both finding satisfaction in the unmatchable taste of freshness, spice, and crunch in every mouthful.
Samosas: More Than Just a Deep-Fried Delicacy
There’s something about Samosas that makes them the reigning king of Indian street food. Perhaps it’s the flaky pastry giving way to a hot, flavorful filling of spiced potatoes and peas, or the heavenly combination of a deep-fried snack with a steaming cup of chai on a rainy day. But beyond its irreplaceable taste and texture, lies a nutritious value which is plenty overlooked.
Sure, the deep-frying process may not paint the healthiest picture. But talking about the filling, the humble potato is a great source of Vitamin C, which helps boost immunity, and potassium, beneficial for heart health. I certainly don't advocate for you to start replacing salads with samosas, but a little indulgence now and then could be gratifying, and your body can benefit from these little packets of joy.
On a fun note, Bruno, my Golden Retriever, seems to have developed a peculiar fondness for samosas. The faintest smell of samosas, and he is restlessly wagging his tail, sparking a debate whether dogs can be foodies. Good thing he is swift and agile, often going on long playful runs to balance out his occasional samosa rendezvous.
Chole Bhature: The Protein Packed Favourite
Then comes Chole Bhature, a dish you cannot miss when you are talking about Indian street food. In one simple sentence, it is a delicious and fulfilling plate of spiced, fluffy Bhature enjoyed with a hearty side of protein-packed, flavorful chickpeas or Chole.
Chickpeas, the main element in Chole, are full of protein, making this dish a hidden source of rich nutrients. This might come as a surprise, but a serving of Chole offers nearly the same amount of protein as a serving of some types of meat. Apart from protein, chickpeas also provide notable amounts of fiber, folate, and iron.
Momos: The Steamed Delight
How can we conclude the list without mentioning Momos? Over the years, what has entrenched itself in the culture of Indian street food from the mystical lands of Tibet is the humble Momo. While traditionally, Momos were always stuffed with minced meat, they’ve evolved over time to cater to Indian tastes and today we have all sorts of vegetarian fillings available. For the health-conscious, the steamed versions are recommended over the fried ones.
These tasty dumpling-like snacks are filled with ingredients like cabbage, carrots, and onions, all of which are a great source of essential nutrients. They're typically paired with a spicy red chutney, which is loaded with healthy antioxidants thanks to its tomato base. If you replace the refined flour shells with whole wheat flour, you’ve got yourself a genuinely healthy snack.
To conclude, while it's true that street foods often get a bad reputation due to concerns over hygiene and nutritious adequacy, it's essential to seek the silver lining. After all, health is about balance, and once you pay attention to what's inside these delicious treats, you might find a plateful of nutrients waiting just for you!