Khatta-meetha might just refer to sweet-and-sour, but when it comes to Indian snacks, the term describes an array of dishes that are utterly balanced in their flavours while being delicious. From monsoon-special Masala Bhutta to forever favourite Pani Puri, here are some khatta-meetha snacks from across India that you must try.
Indian languages have the best expressions for food tastes, and nothing epitomizes this more than words and phrases like “khatta-meetha”, “chatpata” in Hindi and even “tok-jhaal-mishti" in Bengali. Simply utter the phrase khatta-meetha to any Indian and you will find an immediate evoking of the sweet-and-sour taste we all so love in our dishes as well as snacks. But the fact is, getting the khatta-meetha taste right in Indian pickles and curries is much easier than accomplishing it in snacks. Here’s why.
Pickles are usually balanced with spices and the pickling process itself helps create that khatta-meetha flavour profile in most Indian achaar varieties. Curries are usually cooked over some time, say half an hour, and so the khatta-meetha flavours are developed over some time. With Indian snacks, getting the khatta-meetha flavour is not about developing flavours in one pot or jar, but by carefully balancing a variety of elements—this includes the addition of chutneys and toppings apart from the basic ingredients, making khatta-meetha snacks from across India appear easier than they actually are!
This is the reason why the khatta-meetha snacks from across India that we do have are a true testament to the culinary expertise of all Indians, especially those roadside vendors who make the best of these snacks and the home cooks who recreate them perfectly at home. Here are 10 such delicious, khatta-meetha snacks from across India that you must try this evening.
Video Credit: YouTube/Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana
Pani Puri, also known as Golgappa or Phuchka in different parts of India, has to be at the top of the list! Traditionally, Pani Puri consists of hollow semolina or wheat shells filled with a mixture of spicy tamarind water, tangy chutneys, boiled potatoes, chickpeas, and sometimes even boondi and herbs. You are expected to devour Pani Puri in a single mouthful to experience the true explosion of khatta-meetha flavours in your mouth.
Everybody knows all about the yellow-hued Khaman Dhokla snack from Gujarat, but have you heard of Idada Dhokla? Also known as Khatta Dhokla, this white-coloured steamed snack is made with a soaked and fermented rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds batter. Often layered with spicy and tangy chutneys and served with sweet chutneys, Idada Dhokla is a truly delicious khatta-meetha snack.
A speciality from Delhi, this snack is also made across India in various forms. Boiled and fried potatoes are usually tossed in spicy, tangy and sweet chutneys and served with a topping of sev and pomegranate seeds for the perfect Aloo Chaat. Often, curd is also added as a topping along with chaat masala and herbs to make this khatta-meetha snack even more delicious.
If you have tasted this khatta-meetha street food available in Chennai and across Tamil Nadu, then you know just how good a sweet-and-sour snack can get. Usually made with black or white chickpeas that are boiled, Sundal is prepared by tossing these protein-packed legumes with onions, chillies, coconut and topped with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Khatta Meetha Chiwda
Popular in Gujarat and Maharashtra, this Indian snack is a true sweet and sour medley, as the very name suggests. Usually prepared with flattened rice, puffed rice or corn flakes, this snack gets its khatta-meetha flavour from tamarind, jaggery, peanuts, chillies and a variety of other toppings. Add some fried curry leaves, and Khatta Meetha Chiwda’s taste is simply enhanced.
You can debate all you like if Sev Puri originated in North India or Maharashtra, but the fact remains that this khatta-meetha snack is a must-have and a single plate is never enough. Fried disks made of wheat flour are topped with boiled potatoes, chutneys, yoghurt, sev, pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves to create this incredible snack. Many people also choose to add chaat masala and red chillies to make this snack spicier.
The epitome of tok-jhaal-mishti or sour-spicy-sweet in Bengali, Jhalmuri is a street food beyond compare that is made at homes, sold on the streets and even on trains. This puffed rice snack gets its khatta-meetha flavour from onions, tomatoes, peanuts, coconuts, chillies and lemon juice. Often, the puffed rice is also tossed in roasted cumin powder or chaat masala for added flavours.
Uppu Urundai is a steamed snack from Tamil Nadu that combines sweet, sour and spicy flavours. Made with rice flour combined with mild spices, chillies, tamarind, jaggery and coconut, the doughy concoction is then shaped into balls and steamed to perfection. What adds to the khatta-meetha taste of this snack is the fact that it is served with coconut and other South Indian chutneys which intensify its flavours.
Misal Pav, a Maharashtrian delight, is known for its spicy flavours—but very few appreciate the fact that it also has khatta-meetha tones. The sprouted lentils in the Misal provide natural sweetness, while the spicy gravy is often flavoured with tamarind or kokum, if not tomatoes. The Farsaan garnish on top also adds a sweet and sour note to the dish.
The perfect monsoon snack, Bhutta is basically a desi version of corn on the cob. Entire cobs of corn, which are ripe and naturally sweet during monsoon, are roasted over coals or grills—giving them a smokey flavour. The entire Bhutta is then slathered with lemon juice, chaat masala, black salt and sometimes even red chillies and coriander leaves to evoke that ultimate khatta-meetha flavour.