Your Guide to Making These Delicious Deepavali Snacks a Little More Guilt-Free
Sweet. Rich. Creamy. Greasy. And so delicious. That’s Indian snacks and desserts for you. Eating gulab jamun or murukku may be a frequent occurrence in many Indian households, but to the health-conscious, such traditional treats have become a guilty pleasure due to their high fat and sugar content. As Deepavali celebrations get underway, the time has come to make a decadent feast of biryani, curries as well as traditional Indian sweets and snacks for your guests. There’s simply no avoiding all these yummy goodies at this special time of year, but there are ways to indulge while taking off little ounces (pun intended) of guilt. If you keep half an eye on the calorie count and compensate with the right amount of exercise, you can still enjoy all the festivities in a healthy way. Here’s our quick guide to enjoying a deliciously healthy Deepavali, including some calorie-friendly versions of our favourite Indian delights.

Gulab jamun – 300 calories per serving of 2 balls; a 60-minute brisk walk

Gulab jamun is a classic Indian dessert, and possibly the sweetest thing known to mankind. One bite might be enough if you don’t have a sweet tooth. Your guilt-free hack: Made out of deep-fried dough balls consisting of flour, milk and yoghurt, it’s served with a rose water-based syrup. Try preparing a healthier version by using wholewheat flour for the dough balls and stevia or honey for the syrup.

Kulfi – 180 calories per serving; a 30-minute swim

Kulfi is dubbed the Indian version of ice-cream, and it’s not hard to see why. It is made by slowly cooking sweetened milk which is flavoured with spices such as cardamom and saffron before being frozen. Nuts are often added, while fruit-flavoured kulfi are also available, too. Your guilt-free hack: For a healthier version, you could skip the sweetened or evaporated milk and use low-fat milk instead, although purists will be protesting at a softer, blander mouth-feel. If you want a creamier texture, you could use whole milk, and skip the sugars by using fruit and a dash of honey to add sweetness.

Payasam – 300 to 400 calories per serving; a vigorous 1-hour Zumba class

Payasam is a vermicelli or rice pudding made with ghee, milk, sugar, cardamom, nuts and raisins. At up to 400 calories per serving, it is best to eat this in moderation or share it with a friend. Your guilt-free hack: To make a healthier version, you could reduce the amount of sugar added to the milk mixture, and use vegetable oil instead of ghee to brown the nuts and the vermicelli.

Samosa – 250 calories per serving; a 30-minute high-intensity cardio workout

Deep-fried and full of carbohydrates, samosas are a type of Indian street snack that has become popular around the world. A freshly-fried samosa melts in your mouth, and when paired with a sweet tamarind-based chutney it’s a heavenly hit. The potato filling is made by boiling chunks of potato in spices, but it’s the buttery crust where the calories and cholesterol problems lie. Made from refined flour, the dough is also low in fibre. Your guilt-free hack: To make a healthier version, you could bake or air-fry the samosa instead of deep-frying. Using wholewheat flour to make the crust and replacing the butter with vegetable oil is another option if you don’t mind the results being less crumbly.

Murukku – 60 calories per murukku, but as nobody eats just one murukku, estimate about 240 calories per average serving of four murukkus; stair climbing for about 30 minutes

Deep-fried spiced lentil fritters shaped like spirals or twists, murukku is a strong rival to the crunchiest premium potato chips. Anyone who has tasted murukku can attest to this. You tell yourself to have just one murukku. Twenty minutes later, you find yourself polishing off the entire jar. Your guilt-free hack You could add whole grain flours, such as spelt or rye, to the lentil fritter mix to make it more nutritious. The hard, crunchy texture comes from deep frying the fritters in oil at very high temperatures. But if you are concerned about trans fats, simply brush the fritters with some oil and bake in an oven, or use an air fryer.

Onion pakora – 320 calories per serving of four pieces; a 30-minute fast jog

If you have not guessed it by now, deep-frying is the common trend when it comes to traditional Deepavali snacks. It is one of the main reasons that make them so tasty. Onion pakora, the Indian version of onion rings, are no different. This crispy dish has slices of green chilli, capsicum, and spices such as turmeric, coriander and curry leaves added to the batter. Your guilt-free hack: But like murukku and samosas, you could bake onion pakora in the oven, or use an air fryer. Pair with ketchup or chutney for some tangy sweetness, if baking or air frying reduces some of its intense flavours for you. Wishing you a very happy and tasty Deepavali!