Namkeen Is Hindi for Savory Snack Foods

  Manu_Bahuguna/Getty Images 

If you have been around someone from India, been to India, or even just eaten Indian food, you may have heard the word "namkeen." Namkeen is the Hindi word used to describe a savory flavor. The word namkeen is derived from the word namak (meaning salt). It is also used as a generic term to describe savory snack foods. Namkeen is pronounced "num-keen," and can also be referred to as numkeen, namkin, and numkin depending on where you travel throughout India and who you speak to.

Common Snack Foods

Typical namkeen snacks in Indian cuisine include khaara, farsan, chivda, sav, chips, and bhujiya. Namkeen of Indore and ratlam are two snacks that are very well known for their tastes. There are a few other Indian snacks that incorporate salt and have a namkeen flavor, some of which are made from basic grains and can be flavored in a multitude of ways. These kinds are therefore similar to each other but have different names. Many of the namkeen snacks include sev, a versatile crunchy snack that can be flavored with all sorts of spices. Sev looks similar to the Chinese hard noodles served in American Chinese food.

Tikha Gathiya

This crunchy snack combines salty sev with a red chili pepper spicing that is made from besan. It's one of the spicier types.

Crispy Masala Puri

This crispy snack is made from whole wheat flour that fuses in the spices of red chili pepper, ajwain, turmeric, salt, and other spices.


Made in areas of Telangana, a state in southern India, this snack incorporates rice flour, spices, sesame seeds, carom seeds (ajwain), and salt. 

Maida Namkeen

Deep-fried flour and spices such as ajwain, kalonji, or jeera can be added to these strips. It can be baked if you want to make a healthier snack.


This crunchy namkeen snack is made from thick poha or aval, which is a flattened rice, along with dry fruit and spices. The dried fruit provides a sweeter flavor to balance the savory snack.

Gujarati Gathiya

Also known as gathia, ghatia, and ghatiya, gujarati gathiya is made from sev or ompodi. A lot of pepper and carom seeds are used in this recipe, making it similar to kara sev. The gathiya, though, has a puffier texture, is less crunchy, and weighs less. The taste is also milder than regular sev.


This common street food and snack is deep-fried and made from rice, urad dal, and other spices. The punukkulu is often served with peanut chutney that is known as verusanaga chutney, palli chutney, or Toordal chutney. 

Look for these snacks in an Indian or international grocery store in the Indian foods aisle. This guide will help you know what to look for (and what you'll be eating). If you can, buy a few so you can sample a variety of spices, textures, and tastes.