Indian food has a unique blend of aromas and flavors, igniting your tastebuds with a combination of unique spices that are particular to different geographical regions within India. Indian appetizers make a great snack with tea or before dinner, but any of these unique foods taste better when you enjoy them while in India. This guide will point you in the right direction, so you can try the best appetizers that India has to offer. So, get ready to take notes as we take you on a delicious tour of the best Indian appetizers!
Paneer Pakora is a simple and easy snack that many people enjoy around India and around the world. It’s moist and soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. It is deep-fried and made with simple and basic ingredients easily available in many Indian households. Cubes of Indian cheese (paneer) are tossed in a simple masala mix, draped in the batter, and fried.
Pair these delectables with mint chutney dipping sauce or ketchup. Enjoy yourself in India during the monsoon season with these flavorful snacks. Pull up a chair and start sipping on some Indian Chai Tea and munching on these crispy pakoras. Now that’s life!
Insider Tip: A popular Delhi snack is a deep-fried sandwich, known as a bread pakora.
Bhel Puri is an Indian appetizer found in Mumbai. This delicious snack is made of various lentils fried with papri (made of flour), various chutneys, and small, freshly boiled pieces of potatoes. Mix these ingredients with a little lemon juice, and voila! You will have one of the most delicious Indian appetizers that Mumbai has to offer.
Savory snacks sold from street carts are called “chaats” in India, and this chaat has almost iconic status in the western part of the country. Made from puffed rice and sev (crunchy noodles), bhelpuri is low-fat, nutritious, and delicious. The rice and noodles are mixed with onions, potatoes, and chutneys. For a quick bhelpuri, make the chutneys ahead of time and store the rice puffs and sev in air-tight containers. Assemble right before eating and enjoy with a glass of salted lassi.
Dahi vada has roots in Northern India and is sometimes served as a whole meal. These fried balls have a base of cooked lentils that get topped with a thick and creamy yogurt sauce. Similar to falafel with tzatziki, this is a healthy plate that tastes as good as it looks.
The yogurt sauce is called Dahi and is truly good enough to eat on its own. Once the fried lentil balls are covered in a copious amount of dahi, they’re sprinkled with a spice such as cumin, coriander, or chili, and can even be topped with chutney. This spicy dish is also a popular street food in India, and is one worth seeking out when you want the best Indian appetizers.
Khaman dhokla, or khaman as it’s called, is a savory steamed cake made from gram flour (besan). It is a famous and savory Indian appetizer in Gujarat. It is soft and fluffy, mildly tangy, yet sweet, and a great snack any time of the day. Khaman makes a healthy, light vegan snack that won’t stuff you right before dinner! It can be made gluten-free and goes well with some mint, coriander, or even raw papaya chutneys. These steamed cakes are famous Indian appetizers and can be served at informal parties, small gatherings, or even weddings.
Chole Bhatura, a trendy Indian appetizer in Chandigarh, is a combination of cooked chickpeas and fried bread, called bhatura. It is one of the most widely eaten dishes in India. Its mouth-watering, spicy, and exotic flavor is a perfect dish to go with weekday breakfast, Sunday brunch, or even as lunch. Pair it with a chilled glass of sweet lassi, and you’re done for the day. Some also eat this dish with spicy yogurt on the side.
This appetizer is popular at Indian weddings, Roka ceremonies, and parties, appealing to many tastes. This is the most popular of all Indian appetizers in the state of Punjab, and after one bite, you will understand why!
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Papadums are Indian appetizers made with either lentil, gram, rice, or chickpea flour that is baked into a thin, crispy cracker bread. It can be consumed on its own, with pickles, or served with other dishes such as curries, when it’s used as a utensil for scooping up the dish.
Papadum can also be topped with chutneys or raita sauce and accompanied by hot tea. With its popularity, there are some variations on the dish, such as rice papadum, which is boiled in water and dried in the sun. There is also masala papadum with spices such as black pepper, chili, cumin, and garlic, or jackfruit papadum from Karnataka, which combines jackfruit with chickpea flour. Papadums are also quite a popular dish globally, where the bread is served as an appetizer, usually accompanied by mango chutney and lime pickle dips.
Aloo Tikkis are crispy, crusty, and delicious Indian appetizers loved by all! In the Hindi language, “aloo” means potatoes, and “tikki” is patties. So these are potato patties made the Indian way – spiced, herby, and delightful. Aloo Tikki can be made with green peas mixed with potatoes. Stuffing Aloo Tikki with a spiced mixture of green peas or chana dal (split chickpeas) or Indian cheese (paneer) makes the Aloo Tikki taste only better.
The Aloo Tikki made in the street carts of North India are usually stuffed with a spiced filling of peas and paneer or chana dal, and served with chana masala or chole (spicy chickpea curry). This platter is then topped with onions, sweet tamarind-jaggery chutney, and hot green chutney (cilantro and green chilies dip). Sometimes curd (yogurt) is also added.
In Western India, Aloo Tikki is known as aloo patties and is usually made without any stuffing. The method of making them is similar, with some variations in the spices added. Another popular street food in Mumbai is crisp aloo patties served with Ragda. These pan-fried or shallow fried potato patties are topped with dried peas curry and various chaat chutneys (white pea curry).
Insider Tip: You can always skip the stuffing of the Tikkis and make plain potato patties. Aloo Tikki made without stuffing also tastes very delicious.
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Dosas are crispy, savory pancakes that are a staple food in South India. Dosas are hugely popular in the rest of the country as well, and Udipi restaurants serve them along with other South Indian foods in almost every suburb.
Dosas are made from soaked and drained rice, fenugreek seeds, and urad daal, also known as black lentils. Blended in a food processor and combined with water, the mixture makes a thin batter that ferments until flavorful. The fermentation adds a slightly sour flavor to dosas, similar to sourdough. The batter is spread out on a hot pan and cooked similar to a crepe until crisp. Dosas are typically eaten with your hands and can be dipped in curries and chutneys. They can also be stuffed with a filling of mashed potato and peas with spices. These mouthwatering Indian appetizers are served at many South Indian weddings.
Make mini samosas and serve with mint chutney and a yogurt dipping sauce, like minty yogurt dip. These popular Indian appetizers consist of crispy pastry filled with meat or mixed vegetables. Flour, ghee, and salt are mixed to form the dough, and after rolling and cutting into semi-circles, the filling is added, the dough is folded up, and the samosa is deep-fried to a golden brown and served.
Samosas can probably be found anywhere in the world, but they originate from North India. They are a lovely treat for a cold day when you need something savory and hearty, but aren’t hungry enough for a whole meal. Samosas taste even better with traditional Indian Chai, as do many Indian appetizers!
Interesting Fact: There are so many types of samosas, such as mixed vegetable, beef, chicken and potato.
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Aloo parathas are Indian appetizers that are flatbreads made with whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, spices and herbs. These flavorful and delicious stuffed parathas are a staple in many North Indian households. Parathas are as diverse as their fillings, textures, and even the techniques used to build them. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack with a hot cup of Indian Chai.
Delicious Fact: Aloo paratha can be served with a huge scoop of salted butter and also with spicy yogurt known as “raita.”
Now that you have worked up an appetite, make sure you take note of all these delicious appetizers and try out your favorites while in India. You will be amazed at the unique combination of aromas and flavors in these Indian appetizers that will leave you eager to try more! Whether eaten as a snack with tea or before dinner, Indian appetizers will not disappoint your tastebuds!
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