As Indians, we love our traditional sweets and delicacies that not only bring festive joy to celebrations, but accompany countless cups of tea and become our constant companions during the journey. With lifestyle diseases on the rise, the search for healthier alternatives has gained momentum. New-age brands working to give Indian nibbles a healthy makeover are testament to this. Millet is rapidly replacing maida and stevia is increasingly being used as an alternative to refined sugar. Plant materials, vegetables, plant-based oils, whole grains, nuts, and fruits and flowers have also entered the field. From good old mathris and chikkis to laddus and bhujias, there is a lot on offer.
Millet Crackers and Keto Bhujia
Plant-based, gluten-free, and free of refined sugar, these munchable crackers now have a healthier version, using millet in their preparation. “We use amaranth, sorghum and wheat to increase the nutritional value of our produce. Our ingredients are organic and chemical-free,” says Priyasha Saluja, founder of The Cinnamon Kitchen. The crackers are baked, not fried and gluten-free. The Delhi-based brand distributes across India.
Usually carb-heavy, munchies like bhujia and murukku at Bengaluru’s Lo! Kaito Avatar is given by. which offers a range of healthy Indian snacks. “We use plant-based ingredients like mixed seeds and groundnut flower oil,” says founder Sudarshan Gangred, adding that the namkeens taste like maida versions because of the spices used.
Hoping to transform the evening snack is Snack Amore, a Mumbai-based brand offering jowar sticks and quinoa puffs in flavors like tomato masala, onion masala, mint and lime. These munchies are minimally processed with no artificial colors or flavors.
Sugar Free Cashew Katli, Vegetarian Barfi and more
Think of yourself eating loads of sweets – motichoor and besan laddoos, kaju katli, saffron petha – all minus the sugar. Mumbai-based company Healthy Mithai uses stevia, a natural sweetener derived from the plant of the same name, suitable for diabetics, says founder Prabhindra Singh. The brand offers these, as well as crowd favorites like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla, Pan-India.
Anjeer and Besan Burfis is a pan-India crafting and delivery, Pune-based brand Mithi Kahani. On the namkeen menu are methi mathri and chakli, a tea-time snack made from wheat. “These are made using plant-based oils and have the good properties of jaggery. We use fresh, plant-based ingredients. The mathris are cooked in rice bran oil and coated in fresh fenugreek,” said founder Anuradha Sahni.
Gulkand Chikki and Mahua Ladoo
Gulkand with honey from Chaitri rose (sourced from Haldighati in Rajasthan) and amaranth puffs, made from energy-boosting whole grains like quinoa, almonds, sorghum flour and naturally sweetened with dates, they are nutrient dense. A healthy snack. Chikkis are seasoned with the finest Indian spices, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom and rosemary, all of which give them a deep flavor. “It provides a good source of antioxidants and is a good source of protein and fiber,” says Gauri Gupta, founder of Mumbai-based Gouri’s Goodies, which puts the above ingredients in a unique twist.
A spin on the indispensable Indian dessert, Mahua Laddu by Azol is a tribal specialty of Nandarbar, Maharashtra, which is naturally sweet and is made using a wild flower that has many culinary and medicinal benefits. “Laddus are very popular in the region and we make them with organically produced ingredients and sugar free,” says founder Siddharth Purohit.