Maggi noodles – yummy and addictive. It is easy to chug down bowls of these noodles on busy days and see the weighing scale creep up in response. How can we recreate that flavor at home and make it healthier? I have some ideas:
By the way, this is not a traditional dish. The company has taken noodles from the Chinese/Japanese cuisine (and parts of North-East India as well) and taken spice flavors from traditional Indian cuisine and created a truly unique product. But it is not rocket science to recreate them at home. I highly encourage you to try this home made version that both kids and adults will love.
Why do you want to ‘healthify’ it?
The Masala contents
What is it about the masala that makes moms suspicious? Even if some noodles do not contain MSG, they still have a ‘flavor enhancer‘. Usually, there will be a number next to it, researching which reveals chemicals such as disodium guanylate or disodium inosinate.
Why are they using ‘flavor enhancer’? It is certainly not to trick us or make our health bad. The company just wants to make sure that if a person eats its product even 1-year from its manufactured date, it is still fresh- tasting. From the company’s point of view, that’s a logical step. As an engineer, I agree with that view. As a mom, I don’t have to use that option given the easy access to my kitchen spice rack.
The noodles are fried!!
This is a well kept secret by the instant noodle industry. The very process of making the noodles involve flash frying the noodles in oil.
This is the reason why oil is listed as an ingredient in the noodle portion of the maggi product, when regular dried spaghetti does not.
This is why you feel tempted to crunch on the ‘uncooked’ noodles straight from the packet when you feel no such compulsion when you see dry spagetti.
This is why the fat content in the maggi noodles is 4X more than any normal air-dried spagetti noodles.
A simpler analogy would be that store bought pasta (spagetti, linguini or fresh) is like pulka chapatthi while ramen noodles are like puri.
Recipe Health Upgrades
1) Use home made masala
I was inspired by this and this masala recipes on youtube and the ingredients listed in the maggi masala packet itself. Earlier, I have tried just using plain garam masala, but it never really worked. You need a little bit of sharpness from using a blend of spices, some tartness, creaminess from peanut butter and rounding of flavors using sugar. It may not be the exact same taste, but it is pretty darn close and more importantly, delicious!!
2) Use fresh noodles
I used fresh noodles that are made of wheat, salt, water and nothing else. Doesn’t get any better that that…No added fat or fried noodles for this healthy maggi knock-off!!
3) Add spiralized zucchini to the noodles
Most kids hate any veggies in their noodles other than peas. I can empathize – when I was a kid, I preferred my noodles to be just plain too. But that is a problem, because as an adult, I don’t want to be chugging down plain carbs. So, what is a health seeking mom who does not want to cook and clean multiple batches got to do?
Answer – Spiralized veggies. I got a spiralizer recently and it has given me long, beautiful spaghetti like vegetable -strands. This blended so well with the noodles, my kids could not figure out any difference. Apart from the benefit of hoodwinking your kids into eating more veggies, a mouthful of pasta will now also contain low-calorie dense strands of vegetables. How cool is that?
Hmm… if that’s so clever, why not use zucchini alone? Well, 100% zucchini somehow does not fill up quite as well as it would with an added carb. Also, the masalas can overwhelm the zucchini making it like a curry side dish rather than a main dish.
Don’t have a spiralizer, don’t sweat it. Cut it into cubes and add it to the dish.
Okay, that was not a typo. Yes, I meant downgrade, not upgrade. Regular pasta is not going to cook in 2 minutes for you, sorry. All you are doing with Maggi is rehydrating the noodles in hot water. The cooking is already done for you with the flash frying in oil. If you get fresh noodles, it still needs 5-7 minutes to actually cook. Regular sphagetti noodles will take 11-12 minutes.
Anyways, it is just an extra 10 minutes of boiling away, right? I am hoping that you would overrule the time downgrade in favor of the health upgrades for this one.
Upgraded Maggi noodles Recipe
Pasta – fresh or regular dried spaghetti
Zucchini – 1 (spiralized or cubes)
Peas – 1/2 cup
Peanut butter – 1 tbsp dissolved in water (for creamy texture and body)
Garlic powder – 0.5 tsp
Coriander cumin powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 0.75 tsp
Chaat masala – 0.5 tsp
Kashmiri chili powder – 1tsp
Turmeric powder – 0.5 tsp
Pepper powder – 0.5 tsp
Amchur powder – 0.5 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
salt – to taste
Get the water boiling for the pasta in a large pot. Add salt to the water if the noodles do not have salt in them.
Get the masala spices mixed and ready
Spiralize the amount of noodles you want. I chose one zucchini. You can add more based on your preference.
Once the water comes to a boil, add your noodles, frozen peas and stir
Let it boil based on the timing printed on the package.
Once the time is done, drain most of the water in the pasta. Retain some water with the pasta.
Add oil to a broad bottom pan.
Add spice mix and stir for 30 sec.
Add spiralized zucchini and saute for a minute
- Mix peanut butter with about 1/4 cup of water and add paste to the pan
Add drained pasta, peas and pasta water to the pan.
Mix thoroughly and serve.
Some more photos
What do you think of maggi? Love it, hate it or don’t have any opinion? Chime in with your thoughts!!
(P.S. – This article uses Maggi in its title because the brand name has become synonymous with instant noodles. You can extend the same logic to any instant noodles – be it Patanjali or Top Ramen or any similar brand.)
Want to buy the spiralizer?
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I love this lady’s passionate argument against instant noodles :). I could not have said it any better.
For those who were just on the edge of their seats waiting for my opinion on the maggi ‘lead’ issue 🙂 – I have read the whole lead saga in the news thoroughly and it is my personal belief that the FSSAI blew it out of proportion without using proper channels. Anyhow, the company is back on its feet, other competitors used this scandal to gain market share and all is well.