As Indians, we love our traditional sweets and savouries that don’t just bring festive cheer to celebrations, but also go with countless cups of tea and become our abiding companions during travel. With lifestyle diseases on the rise, the search for healthy alternatives has picked up pace. A host of new-age brands working to give Indian nibbles a healthy makeover, are proof. Millets are fast replacing maida and stevia is being increasingly used as a substitute for refined sugar. Plant ingredients, vegetables, plant-based oils, whole grains, nuts and even fruits and flowers have entered the fray, too. A lot is on offer, from good old mathris and chikkis to laddoos and bhujia.
Millet crackers and keto bhujia
Plant-based, gluten-free, and free from refined sugar, these munchable crackers now have a healthy version, with millets being used in their preparation. “We use amaranth, jowar and buckwheat to enhance the nutritional value of our products. Our ingredients are organic and free of chemicals,” says Priyasha Saluja, founder at The Cinnamon Kitchen. The crackers are baked, not fried and gluten-free. The Delhi-based brand delivers all over India.
Usually carb-heavy, munchies such as bhujia and murukku have been given a keto avatar by Bengaluru-based Lo! that offers a range of healthy Indian snacks. “We use plant-based ingredients such as mixed seeds and peanut flower oil,” says founder Sudarshan Gangrade, adding that the namkeens taste just like their maida versions, because of the seasonings used.
Hoping to transform evening snacking is Snack Amor, a Mumbai-based brand offering jowar sticks and quinoa puffs in flavours such as tomato masala, onion masala, mint and lime. These munchies are minimally processed with no artificial colours or flavours.
Sugar-free kaju katli, vegan barfi and more
Think of the numerous mithais you’ve grown up eating — motichoor and besan laddoos, kaju katli, kesar petha — all this minus the sugar. Mumbai-based Healthy Mithai Co uses stevia, a natural sweetener derived from the plant of the same name, suitable for diabetics, shares founder Prabhinder Singh. The brand delivers these, as well as crowd favourites such as gulab jamun and rasgulla, pan-India.
Crafting and delivering anjeer and besan barfis pan-India, is the Pune-based brand Meethi Kahani. On the namkeen menu is methi mathri and chakli, tea-time snacks made from wholewheat. “These are made using plant-based oil and have the goodness of jaggery. We use fresh, plant-based ingredients. The mathris are fried in rice bran oil and coated in fresh methi,” shares founder Anuradha Sawhney.
Gulkand chikki and mahua laddoo
Made with gulkand that has honey from the chaitri gulab (which is sourced from Haldighati in Rajasthan) and energy-boosting whole grains like amaranth puffs, quinoa, almonds, jowar flour — and naturally sweetened with dates, they make for a nutrient-dense and healthy snack. The chikkis are seasoned with quintessential Indian spices, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom and rosemary, all of which lend them deep flavours. “These provide a good source of antioxidants and are a rich protein and fibre source,” says Gouri Gupta, founder of Mumbai-based Gouri’s Goodies, which offers Gulkand Minis that bring together the above ingredients in a unique twist.
A spin on the indispensable Indian sweet, the Mahua Laddoo by Aazol is a tribal specialty from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, made using the eponymous forest flower known to be naturally sweet and carry a host of culinary and therapeutic benefits. “The laddoos are quite popular in the region and we make these with organically sourced ingredients and free of sugar,” says founder Siddharth Purohit.