While many of the traditional snack foods of India, such as fried lentil- and grain-based fritters and breads, are high in fat, you don’t need to go off your diet to quell those hunger pangs. Indian foods, especially from the largely vegetarian region of Madras, feature healthy fruits and vegetables, often paired with spices and other seasonings. Whether you are craving something sweet or savory, Indian cuisine provides a range of options for light vegetarian snacks of less than 100 calories.
Mangoes, papayas, tamarind and pineapple are included in both sweet and savory preparations. Indian food columnist and author Laxmi Hiremath suggests using sweet, ripe mangoes for Shahi Aam, which is sliced mangoes with pistachios, honey, nutmeg and cardamom. Ginger and mint also make a refreshing accompaniment to fresh mango. To keep your snack low-calorie, limit the amount of sweetener used on fruit. On its own, half of a mango contains approximately 100 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Lassi, a refreshing Indian drink similar to a smoothie, contains dairy products like yogurt and buttermilk, thinned with water. Popular flavors include rosewater and mango. Use low- or non-fat buttermilk and yogurt to keep your lassi low-calorie. Spiced with cardamom and nutmeg, you won’t miss the fat.
Most vegetables are low in calories, so they are a natural choice for a savory, healthy snack. Roasted vegetables, such as carrots or cauliflower, get an exotic kick from cumin and other Indian spices. Raita, a cucumber and yogurt condiment traditionally served with spicy Indian foods, makes a refreshing chilled dip for crudités and pita bread.
Spiced nuts in small quantities provide a healthy, high-protein snack. While nuts are high in fat and calories, the American Dietetic Association recommends them as part of a healthy diet for their mono and polyunsaturated fats, which may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Containing both sweet and savory spices, ingredients for Indian-spiced nuts can include cardamom, cinnamon, clove and hot pepper. This easy-to-eat finger food is perfect for parties and those hectic days when you can’t find time for lunch. For a 100-calorie snack, limit your serving size to one tbsp.