Top 10 South Asian snacks for the first day of Ramadan


Saahir Mawani

Sitting around a family dinner table, a group of people eat goat akhni, a popular food in South Asian cuisine. The dish is commonly made for special occasions, making it a symbolic piece of a celebration.

Growing up in a South Asian household, many of these snacks have become as common as the snacks found in local grocery stores. While many people are accustomed to wings, chips and dip and mozzarella sticks being snack foods, South Asian culture is full of spice, tang and a plethora of other flavors, and with the first day of Ramadan being today, I wanted to provide you with some great iftar options!

Chicken 65

My absolute favorite snack of all time has to be Chicken 65. Originating in Chennai, India, the fried piece of chicken is coated in a batter with a bunch of spices in it. There were originally 65 spices in the batter, thus the name Chicken 65. The spices give it a red color after it’s been fried, making it visually striking and also adding to the spice. It has an overwhelmingly spicy taste, with a slight citrus-y aftertaste. The spice brought by the different chilis is a constant throughout the food, and often leaves me begging for water. 


A samosa is a triangular crispy pastry wrapped around a mixture of different fillings, fried and served fresh with raita — a green yogurt sauce with mint chutney. The fillings can be made of meat (typically chicken or beef), potatoes and peas. The pastry is a thin layer folded many times to create a flaky crust. I love this especially due to the differing textures and the subtle spice in the dish. 

Bun Kabab

The Desi spin on a burger, a bun kabab is a meat patty coated in an egg mixture and bread crumbs. The bun has an assortment of sauces on it, such as a red chili sauce and raita. Aside from the obvious bun and meat, consumers also have the pick from an assortment of fixings. Although it isn’t the usual lettuce and tomatoes, the bun kabab could come with fried eggs or onions. 


This turmeric-infused dish is a savory item made from a fermented wrapper baked in a steam bath. Served with a sweet and spicy chutney, dhokra is one of my favorite midnight snacks, and I am often found guilty of eating it completely cold. 


An explosion of textures, chaat is a common appetizer in Desi/South Asian households. Consisting of fried bread pieces, yogurt, tamarind sauce and fried crisps at its base, chaat has made its way to many multicultural events. It’s become a way for people to be introduced to multiple facets of South Asian flavor with the tanginess of the yogurt, the sweetness of the tamarind sauce and the saltiness coming from the fried crisps. There are also many variations of the food, adding or removing different flavors and textures. 


Pakoras are fried onion fritters, commonly used as a snack or in other dishes and curries. They are a common delicacy found at many places where desi snacks are served, almost as readily available as samosas. I personally only like pakoras when they’ve been freshly fried, and the vegetable stuffing is still steaming when you break it apart. 

Patties/Meat Pies

Similar to the samosa, patties are two sheets of puff pastry with either ground beef or ground chicken in between. The flakiness of the puff pastry sets the patties above the samosa, giving a variation in texture.

Ras Malai

A perfect transition into sweets, ras malai is an amazing South Asian desert. It’s a sweet, sponge-like cheese in a milk sauce, so lactose intolerant people may need to take a Lactaid before consuming. My favorite version of ras malai is with pistachios as a garnish. The sponges absorb the mixture of milks in a way that explodes in your mouth, similar to cake in melted ice cream.


Of the “Jalebi Baby” fame on TikTok, the penultimate dish on my list is an orange sweet dish fried sugar batter, which is then coated in another layer of sugar syrup. The crispy desert is the perfect summer desert, keeping it light, but also satiating any cravings you may have. 

Gulab Jamun

The final item on my list, gulab jamun are fried cake balls covered in chashni — a simple syrup. This dessert comes in two variations, one being fried longer, yielding for a crispier exterior. This was the dessert I grew up on, as opposed to a chocolate chip cookie or cake, and I would love for anyone reading to give it a shot.