I LOVE Indian food. Just love, love, love it. Unfortunately, it's one cuisine that I just haven't mastered on my own. I'm not as into the North Indian curries and heavy stews as I am the snacky chaat (or Indian street snacks). I usually just head to a local chaat corner (like India Bazaar on Hacks Cross!) when I need my snacky fix.
But a few weeks back, I got an email from the maker of ZOUQ snacks, asking if I'd review their tinned, crunchy, vegan Indian snacks.
Well, hells yea, I would! I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I am a snack hoarder. Like to the max. My desk at work is loaded with all varieties of nuts and trail mixes and gourmet chocolates. I actually feel completely anxious and insecure if I don't have lots of snacks around. Yea, I have issues.
But anyway, I've been trying these chaaty snacks all week, and I have a little review for y'all. First, I tried the Jubilee Mix, a blend of rice flakes, peas, and lentils seasoned with all manner of spices (sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, fennel, sesame seeds, red chili, curry, cardamom, etc.). This was hands-down my fave of the bunch. It had that special Indian snack flavor that I can't quite put my finger on, but it's a taste only found in Indian food. Asafoetida, maybe? Anyway, I loved the coated peanuts and the large almost Frito-like rice flakes.
Next I opened the Fiery Sticks. These are basically just shoestring potato sticks but with spicy Indian red chili, cumin, and green mango powder. In other words, the best potato sticks I've ever had. I grew up eating those cheap potato sticks in a can. And these are way better.
And then I tried the Golden Lentils. These were advertised as "no spice" on the press materials they sent, and that made me a little leery of these. I like hot, hot, hot. But honestly, these taste really wholesome and almost nutty. They're like crunchy fried lentils. And does it really get any better than that? My only complaint with these would be that they're so tiny, it's hard to control how much you're eating!
Finally, I cracked open the Curry Crunch. Totally not what I was expecting, but delicious. This snack mix is both sweet and savory, and it has a strong curry taste. I kind of thought it would just be savory, but the sweetness was a nice surprise. I really like the mixture of stuff. Like the Jubilee Mix, the Curry Crunch is loaded with variety — chickpeas, rice flakes, red lentils, tapioca peanuts, and green peas. The perfect marriage of sweet and savory.
I've been snacking on these all week, and I know I'll be super sad when I run out. Right now, ZOUQ snacks are only sold in stores in L.A., but you can order them online. They're a little calorie dense for a counter like me. Each tin contains four servings, and each serving ranges from 130 to 157 calories. But I could easily eat an entire tin at once! Luckily, I have a little self-control, so I'm making sure that doesn't happen. But they really are that good.