Chaat To Snacks On Diet? Try These 6 Healthier Recipes
Image Credit: Freepik

Chaat is one of the most beloved snack foods across India. With its magical blend of sweet, spicy, crunchy and tangy flavours, it's no wonder chaat is so popular at street food stalls. The signature chaats like pani puri, bhel puri, samosa chaat, and more are usually made by deep-frying the various components like puri, samosa, pakoras. However, frying leads to excess oil absorption which can be unhealthy. Craving those tantalizing flavours of chaat but want something a little lighter? Embark on a journey through chaat-land, where familiar flavours collide in unexpected ways to create healthier, fry-free versions of your favourite snack foods. Picture crunchy puffed rice tossed with cool yogurt, tangy tamarind, and fiery red chili. The sweetness of date chutney complements the saltiness of chaat masala, while juicy pomegranate seeds provide pops of fruity freshness.   

Through mindful substitutions and smart cooking techniques, here is a classics chaat makeover. But the riot of sweet, sour, spicy flavours you know and love remains. So open your mind and appetite to discover a healthier side of chaat you never knew existed. The tantalizing flavours await! Let’s take about 7 recipes for popular chaats that skip deep frying. By baking, grilling, roasting or steaming instead, you can cut down on oil while still getting the classic chaat flavours you love. Whether you want to celebrate an occasion or just make a snack healthier, these chaat recipes let you enjoy the taste without all the grease. 

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Bake Samosa Instead of Frying    

Traditionally, samosas are deep fried in oil which makes them high in calories. However, you can bake samosas in the oven for a much healthier version that cuts out much of the oil.  

To bake samosas, use filo dough instead of maida. Filo dough is thinner and flakes apart in layers, making it perfect for baked samosas. Simply take a sheet of filo dough, cut it into triangles, and fill with your favourite samosa filling. Fold the dough over into samosa shapes, brush lightly with oil, and bake in the oven at 400°F for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  

Baked samosas have a light, flaky crust and are lower in calories and fat compared to their fried counterparts. Fill them with a variety of fillings like spiced potatoes, paneer, chicken or lentils. Serve with coriander chutney or tamarind sauce for a tasty and healthier chaat option. 

Image Credit: Freepik

Oven-Baked Pakoras 

Pakoras are a popular Indian snack that are traditionally deep fried, adding a lot of oil and calories. However, you can make healthy baked pakoras instead using the oven and minimal oil. 

The key is to coat sliced vegetables like potatoes, onions, spinach, and cauliflower in a spiced gram flour (besan) batter and bake them until crispy. This gives you the delicious flavour without absorbing all the oil from deep frying. 

By slicing veggies thinly and patting them dry, you remove excess moisture, so they get perfectly crisp in the oven. Make a zesty batter with gram flour, spices like cumin, coriander, chili powder, and salt. Just add enough water so the batter clings to the veggies. Lightly coat the veggies in oil first so the spices really stick. Then dip them in the flavourful batter until they're generously covered on all sides. Arrange the battered veggies on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until golden brown and crispy. Enjoy these oven-baked fritters as an appetizer or anytime snack. The same amazing pakora flavour, just baked instead of fried! 

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Baked Dahi Bhalla  

Dahi bhalla is a popular Indian street food that typically uses fried bhallas (fried lentil dumplings) soaked in tangy whipped curd. However, you can easily make this chaat without deep frying and still get the same delicious flavours. Baked bhallas are a healthier alternative to fried ones. To make them, mix together urad dal flour, rice flour, chopped onions, coriander leaves, chili powder, asafoetida, salt, and oil. Shape into balls, arrange on a baking sheet, and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. Once the bhallas are baked, you can assemble the chaat. Soak the bhallas in beaten curd mixed with roasted cumin powder, salt, chili powder, and chaat masala. Garnish with chopped onions, coriander leaves, toasted cumin seeds, and sev. Baking instead of frying helps reduce the oil content in this favourite street snack. You still get the same punch of flavours and textures from the soft drowned bhallas, tangy whipped curd, crunchy sev, and spicy chutneys. It makes for a fresher, lighter version of dahi bhalla chaat. 

Baked Bhel Puri 

Bhel puri is a wildly popular Indian street food, with its tangy chutneys, puffed rice, sev, chopped onions, and tomatoes. Traditionally, bhel puri is served with deep fried puri, which adds crunch but also a lot of oil. However, you can make a lighter yet still delicious version by substituting the fried puri with healthier alternatives. Baked puri or papdi are excellent substitutes for fried puri in bhel puri. Baked puri gives a nice crunch without the grease, while papdi (also known as papri) are dried discs made from refined flour that add crispness. You can find both readily available in Indian grocery stores. 

When assembling the bhel puri, use just a drizzle of oil while tossing the ingredients instead of deep frying the puri in oil. This way, you cut out excess oil without sacrificing the iconic tangy, crunchy flavours of bhel puri. Serve with coriander chutney, tamarind chutney and sev for a mouthwatering chaat treat. 

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Grilled Fruit Chaat  

Most chaats use fried ingredients like samosas, pakoras, or papdis which are fried in oil. Grilled fruit chaat is a creative way to make chaat without deep frying anything.  

The fruit chaat is made by grilling fruits like mango, banana, apple, pineapple until they get char marks. The grilled fruits are then chopped into bitesize pieces and tossed with chaat masala, lemon juice, chili powder, salt, and cilantro. This gives a sweet, sour, spicy flavour to the fruits. 

Compared to fried snacks, the grilled fruit has a fresh taste and makes for a healthier chaat option. The fruits lend their own sweetness, so jaggery or sugar syrup can be avoided too. Grilled fruits chaat is recommended for those looking for oil-free chaat recipes. 

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Roasted Chana Chaat 

Chana is traditionally fried in oil before being tossed with chaat masala and other ingredients to make a delicious chaat snack. However, you can cut out the frying and make a tasty roasted chana chaat instead.  Preheat your oven to 400°F. Toss drained canned chickpeas with just a teaspoon or two of oil. Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway, until crispy and golden brown. Once roasted, transfer the chickpeas to a bowl. Toss them with diced onion, green chutney, sweet chutney, chaat masala, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The crispy roasted chickpeas pair perfectly with the cool, tangy flavours of the chutneys and spices. It makes for a lighter yet still satisfying chaat without deep frying the chickpeas. Roast up a batch on the weekend to have a healthy snack on hand.