Last week, Wolfie and I were ecstatic when this snack box turned up in our mail. We really enjoy the snack tastings, but this box was like no other. When I opened up the box, I had no idea what was inside.
For us, our little taste of India would probably be completely biased. We love India, we love everything from Indian culture, art, music, the people and of course, the cuisine. Bristol is a very multicultural city and it’s not uncommon to end up deep in discussions and exchanges. When I was young, we used to have rows and rows of shops selling various types of burfi in one area, a treat outing that I fondly remember. Many years ago on a vacation to Devon, I remember a family from New Dehli who were cooking up a lamb curry on the other side of the park shelter to us, while we had tea and traditional British cakes. What happened was an exchange of cultural treats, discussion and lots of laughter. My brother and I played with two young boys whom we had never met and were unlikely to ever meet again. We set off a water rocket and shared ideas on how to make it go the highest. Today, I have a couple from Western India who live just around the corner from us, and who keep insisting we visit them, just because they accidentally received a parcel for me and I was kind to them. I often say that I have never met a bad Indian person and to this day, that still rings true.
So without further ado, I was as keen to try these snacks as I am sure you are to read our opinions of them. There are some striking similarities that perhaps underscore the close relationship between India and Britain even to this present day. Of course, I will underscore them as we go along.
Lay’s India’s Magic Masala Potato Chips
In the UK, Masala is a mild curry spice mix that a lot of people are familiar with. Although this relates to the spices rather than the method of cooking, masala spice usually contains popular sweet and savoury spices, including cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cardamom. I thoroughly enjoy cooking with garam masala, so I was really curious to see how it faired on a potato crisp.
Winner Or Binner? Unfortunately, we weren’t off to a great start. The sweeter and milder flavours weren’t there, and we could only really detect spicy black pepper. These definitely weren’t complicating things with any wannabe chicken flavours (like Walkers Chicken Tikka Masala tried to do), but that was all that could be said for them. They made us cough too because of the spicy and dry seasoning, and they also seemed a bit eggy to me. A Binner.
Kurkure Chilli Chatka
Chatka is a knobbly fried rice snack with a mild curry flavour. These snacks are apparently light, crispy and popular in India.
Winner Or Binner? One of the biggest challenges that I faced in this snack tasting was opening packets. I’m normally quite strong, but packets in India are completely different from those in the UK. In Britain, packets are gripped on either side and pulled open, but no such motion was working here. On two occasions I had to ask Matt to open the packets, which apparently need to be torn open on the perforations. India, you’re making a girl look weak! With that said though, once we got into these, they really were a hit. They’re like the NikNaks which we get in the UK, but nicer. They’re pretty spicy, but also slightly sweet. A Winner!
Let’s be clear here, there is nothing healthy about bhujia. Fried in old oil, flavoured with salt and spices and preserved, this is the kind of snack my doctor wouldn’t want me having!
Winner Or Binner? This snack has a loose appearance and a light, crispy texture. It’s not too spicy, but with enough flavour to leave you wanting more and I’m definitely picking up the garlic and the cumin here, too. The really hard part was saying no to more, after all, it’s supposed to be a snack-tasting, not a snack-consuming! I’m really curious though as to why there is one large piece in the pack which is even illustrated on the pack. Indian friends, if you can cast some light, I’d love to learn! Meanwhile, it’s another Winner.
Khatta Meetha, or “sweet and sour”, is a mix of fried snacks, dried peas and peanuts to create this sour-and-sweet mix. At first glances, it looks a lot like chanachur (“Bombay mix”, in English), so we were keen to give it a go.
Winner Or Binner? Unfortunately, we weren’t getting much of the “sour” here. It’s crispy and light, but it’s also surprisingly sweet. I’m a fan, Matt isn’t. We settled on Binner, purely because we couldn’t really detect any sour. Sorry, India.
Parle G Original Gluco Biscuits
Most interestingly, Parle G gluco biscuits are very close to the Malted Milk biscuits we have here in the UK, including the braided pattern around the outside. Parle G are much more golden, and they smell distinctively sweeter, too. Incidentally, we love Malted Milk in this household, so of course, we had to bring one to the table for a side-by-side comparison! Yes folks, that is a print of a cow you see on the Malted Milk biscuit. Cute and funny story? When I was young, I used to call them “moo biscuits”. I know, I know. Moo-ving on…
Winner Or Binner? The comparisons are both interesting and plentiful. Parle G is thinner, but Malted Milk is crumblier. Parle G is sweet, Malted Milk is, well, malted and creamy. If you like a very sweet biscuit with your tea, then Parle G will be your preference. If you like something a little less sweet, then you will of course prefer Malted Milk. Overall, these were a Winner for us, but that was pretty easy given their British counterpart!
So it is said, these creams have a pineapple flavoured cream filling. We’re both partial to a cream biscuit, but pineapple isn’t a flavour we really see in the UK. Curious-er and curious-er!
Winner Or Binner? On opening, these biscuits have a really nice, slightly sweet but really mouth-watering pineapple smell. Unfortunately though, they were all style and no substance as the pineapple flavour just wasn’t quite there. The biscuit part was surprisingly golden again which makes me wonder what our friends from afar would make of British biscuits, which are much less baked (they’re still edible, we promise!). We’re still giving these a Winner because they’re still nice, they’re just not as pineapple-y as we expected.
Parle Fab! Bourbon
Another comparison, you lucky people! Matt loves Bourbon creams, which are really just a chocolate biscuit, sandwiched with chocolate cream. In the UK, most households favour them!
Winner Or Binner? On visuals alone, it was interesting that the Parle bourbon biscuit was sprinkled in sugar, but the British version (sourced from ASDA, for those with a need to know!) is not. The Parle version is thinner and smaller, but it is also filled better, with chocolate cream filling right to the edges. It’d be a Winner for sure for delivering a plenty filled biscuit. Unfortunately though, we just found the sprinkling of sugar made this biscuit far too sweet for us, so sadly, it’s a Binner.
Parle Fab! Jam-in
Oh India, if ever there was a way to my heart, you’re certainly trying for it here. Jam-ins are a lot like our Fox’s Jam ‘n’ Creams, which I absolutely adore. Hands down, Jam ‘n’ Creams are probably that one biscuit I will do almost anything to get my hands on. Each biscuit is sandwiched with a core of strawberry jam, surrounded by a vanilla cream. Heavenly!
Winner Or Binner? India, why are these so sweet? The jam tastes more like bubblegum than strawberry. I wanted to be in love, and I wound up heartbroken instead. Why are they sprinkled in large sugar crystals again? They’re plenty sweet already. I felt like Prue from Great British Bake Off, judging an overwhelmingly disappointing bake. India, I know you can do better! Sorry folks, it’s another Binner. You can have half a point for the holographic wrapper though, I did like that! See? we’re not really mean 😉
Cadbury is not unfamiliar to British people, however, Perk is a bar only available in India. Another chocolate wafer biscuit, we were bound to love it, surely?
Winner Or Binner? Oh India, I can only hope that this somehow maybe went stale in transit, otherwise, we really need to talk. This bar was soft, which when you expect a sweet, crisp, crumbly wafer, is a little bit off-putting. I like that it comes in pairs though because it’s really great for sharing and one piece is enough for one person. Unfortunately, that was the only credit we could give. Binner.
The packaging is fairly non-descript about these, only referring to them as “fruit rolls” Here in the UK, a fruit roll is a fruit flavoured jelly string rolled into a coil, so maybe it’s the same?
Winner Or Binner? Not at all! These hard-boiled candies are double packaged and come in a cute little biconcave disk shape. Matt had the orange one and said it was nicely orange-y, I had blackcurrant and I was impressed by how good the blackcurrant flavour was. I’d definitely buy these again if they were available in the UK. A Winner.
Again, not much was being given away about these. They’re popular in India and they are “the solid cola”. Hmm.. okay..
Winner Or Binner? Similar to Poppins, these are a hard-boiled cola flavoured candy, and they had us both nodding our heads with approval! I was picking up a very faint fizziness, but nonetheless, the cola flavour was there. They were double-wrapped again, which the environmentalist in me hates but the all-things-quirky lover in me adored. It’s not something you’d see in the UK, which now makes me think about hygiene practices in our sweet shops, Still, a Winner.
NB. Yes, I had to photograph the sweet on a different surface as it blended against the tablecloth and just looked like a part of the pattern!
Parle Kaccha Mango Bite
The flyer said these are “pulpy”, so I was concerned and interested in equal measure. Would they contain mango perhaps? Dried mango? Mango juice? I couldn’t wait to find out. They apparently contain raw mango too, so I was really curious.
Winner Or Binner? First things first, that colour. If I felt it would last a lifetime, I’d have a mind to varnish one of these sweets and adorn it with a fine silver chain to wear as a necklace – that colour is gorgeous! The flavour was quite disappointing and I couldn’t detect any mango, but that may be because really, in the UK, any mango flavoured confectionery is either artificially flavoured or simply doesn’t exist. These were by no means bad tasting, so congratulations India, have another Winner on us.
What surprised us most was…This has to go down to the hard-boiled sweets. In the UK, hard-boiled confectionery is often seen more as “old person food” yet in India, it seems the packaging appeals to a much younger audience. A lot of young people wouldn’t be seen sucking any hard confectionery in the UK, but it seems that’s not the case in India.
I hope you enjoyed this post and this review of Indian snacks. Please be assured that this post in no way has changed our views on India or Indian cuisine on the whole. India will always have a very special place in our hearts – no matter how much sugar they sprinkle on their biscuits!
Next week, we’ll be back with another snack tasting post for you to read. Any guesses where we’ll be heading?
Until next time!
Stay safe, have fun,
Helen & Matt xx