India’s Favourite Chai-time Snacks

I asked members of Chef at Large a couple of days ago, where they’re from and what their favourite tea time snacks were. The response was enthusiastic, given how much we love our masala chai and the nibbles we serve with it.

The original post is here.

I then fired up my favourite Python editor and started working on those responses, and here’s the result – the top 5 snacks Indians love with their chai.

  • Samosas
  • Biscuits
  • Vadas
  • Mathris
  • Kachoris

Given there were over 700 responses from diverse geographical areas, including Indians settled out of India, it’s a very nice surprise to see samosas at the top of the list. 

A brief description of the dish, as well as bunch of recipes from CaL Badge Network bloggers follows.

Samosas

In its simplest form, a samosa is boiled, spiced and mashed potatoes stuffed into a rolled out pastry dough and deep fried. Many variations exist, such as the little ones in Chennai that are stuffed with spiced, mildly fried onions, or those stuffed with spicy buffalo meat that can be found in the Jama Masjid area and then we have mava samosas, ‘Chinese’ samosas that are stuffed with noodles and so on. The format is simple and it lends itself to a variety of flavours and textures. Samosas are also served in a more filling manner, crushed and topped with curried potatoes, choley and more.

Recipes from CBN members:

Biscuits

We love our biscuits too, liberally dunking the sweet varieties into a mug of tea and even slurping up the soggy mess left at the bottom of teacups. You’ll find biscuits left unflavoured with just a little added sugar, others with aniseed (saunf) and ajwain and yet others that are savoury and lend themselves to a number of toppings.

Recipes from CBN members:

Vadas

Most of us in north India are likely to associate vadas with the fried, fluffy, doughnut shaped snack made of urad dal. Those from Mumbai or whereabouts already have their own iconic version, the vada used in vada-pav, that’s made by coating a ball of spiced potatoes in a thin layer of chickpea flour batter and deep frying. South Indians have their own numerous varieties and other parts of the country, their own versions with different names. 

Recipes from CBN members:

Mathris

Largely a north Indian snack, Mathris (also called Mathi)are made with flour, water, spices, oil and usually deep fried. Found in most cultures in the upper half of the country, Mathris can be made using a variety of flavours and are usually served with pickles and chutney, making the number of combinations quite large. 

Recipes from CBN members:

Kachoris

A cousin to the ever popular samosa, kachoris too can be found in many shapes, sizes and fillings. While most are deep fried with a flaky crust and a spicy filling, the nature of the crust and the filling changes from culture to culture and state to state. Most are usually seen to be stuffed with a spicy lentil mixture though there are variations like Rajasthani onion kachoris or pyaaz ki kachori. Usually a snack item, kachoris are also sometimes served in a more substantial format and can serve as a mini meal too – crushed or torn apart and topped with curried potatoes, choley or even a thin kadhi (without pakodas) in Rajasthan. There also exist variations that are baked without any stuffing, such as those found in Kashmir.

Recipes from CBN members:

What other variations have you seen, of these very popular tea-time snacks?

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.