Monday, November 4, 2013

Chivda/chiwda - Low calorie deliciousness in under 15 minutes

My train is always late, well it is just post event :-). While all my fellow bloggers have moved on from Diwali festivities, here I am still writing about my preparations for the festival of lights. In any case, it is better late than never. As promised I bring you a yummy savory snack that is highly customizable and gets done in a jiffy, it is good to sit and munch all by yourself or pack some and share it with friends. Chivda made with paper thin poha - crunchy, spicy and aromatic for Deepavali.
Chikki and Chivda, what do they have in common, lots if you ask me. For starters both begin with the same alphabet, both are delicious, both are low maintenance when it comes to preparations and both can be relatively low calorie compared to many Indian festive goodies. Now let us make this discussion a little bit narrow and I will talk about Lonavala chikki & Laxminarayan chivda - do those names ring a bell? For me, first & foremost, the sound of those words are the ultimate cue to drool helplessly and reminisce the good, old days :-). The first time I travelled by myself to Bombay, I took the train from Bengaluru which went on & on for 24 hours making my head go woozy even after I stepped out on the platform. Nammamma had packed puliyogare, curd rice for me to eat on my journey which never got opened because I was way too shy to eat infront of a compartment full of strangers, weird huh? Life teaches you lessons and makes you grow more mature and now I can eat anywhere when I am hungry :-). My cousin and her husband gave me an earful for disrespecting mom's food by not consuming it and starving for 24 hours, devoured the yummy puliyogare from the packet and fed me hot dinner. So when I headed back, she made 3 chapatis and rolled them with potato subji with a strong word of discipline that I better eat it before I reached home or I would face consequences. She definitely sounded much more stricter than my mom, so I gobbled up the food when nobody was looking at me(and I realized in the process no one was watching me anyway) in the train.
The other thing my Bombay smart cousin told me was to grab a couple of packets of Lonavala chikki(brown sugar brittles made from different nuts, sesame seeds etc) when the train stops at the hilly town. She described the yumminess of these chikkis in such detail that I would have jumped off the train to get some of those Lonavala special chikkis. In the brief time the train made a stop, I did pick up a couple of varieties of the chikki which everyone enjoyed at home though I later came to understand was not the greatest of the Lonavala offerings and you had to go into specific bylanes to get the best of the goods. So after a couple of years, when my colleagues from Bombay area went home for vacations, I knew exactly what to ask them to bring back for me :-). A more generous friend brought me a bag of spicy-sweet Chivda along with the chikkis as she knew I favored spicy treats over the sweet ones. One spoon of that Chiwda mix and I was totally hooked. Thus began a search for a recipe that would replicate that taste. Laxminarayan Chiwda is a very famous snack from Pune, now available almost world over. Although my loyalty for the brand has worn off as I make them at home very often and customize in multiple different ways, it is one of those first love stories I fondly remember. And I make some good chikkis at home too but let us continue on that thread on another day, so this post doesn't become too long and boring..
Growing up, Chivda was not something nammamma made at home, I was more used to the Avalakki puri (puffed rice made from poha) mixture than the Chivda which is totally yummy too. I had eaten a North Karnataka version of this in one of the relatives wedding where the bride came from that region. I remember having pestered my akka to get me the recipe even before they had time to welcome the bride home and make acquaintance with her :-). The masala powder (Coriander + cumin + saunf) adds a wonderful fragrance to every bite of the mixture, you can play around with the proportions a little bit if you favor one of them over the others.

Here is my low calorie snack for Deepavali, just get the ingredients together and you will be done in no time, it lasts for a while without getting spoilt (make sure you use good quality dry coconut as it will go rancid otherwise and spoil the entire thing) so you can have an extended taste of Deepavali.

What do you need to make chivda?
10 cups thin poha/paper avalakki (1Lb)
Roast & powder:
1 Tblsp dhania/coriander seeds
1.5 Tblsp saunf/fennel seeds
1 Tblsp jeera/cumin
3/4 cup oil
12-15 green chilies
1 Tblsp mustard
3/4 cup peanuts
3/4 cup fried gram/kadle/chutney dal
3/4 cup kobbari/dry coconut slices
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cashew nuts (optional, I didn't use it)
1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp sugar (optional but recommended)
10-12 curry leaves
How do you make chivda?
  • Tear the curry leaves from the stem, keep aside.
  • Remove stems from the green chilies, slit vertically and cut into 2-3 pieces depending on the size.
  • You can either grate (biggest holes on your grater) or chop the dry coconut into thin slices. We like the texture of the pieces and I cut them up.
  • Gather all the remaining ingredients and keep them ready.
  • Toast Dhania, cumin and saunf seeds together in a small pan for 2 minutes, they just need to get warm, take them to a spice blender and make a fine powder.
  • Take a heavy bottom, wide pan and heat it on medium heat for a minute.
  • Add the oil, followed by mustard seeds, give a minute of head start to mustard, add the peanuts and green chilies. Let it all roast for 1.5-2 minutes.
  • As the mustard starts to splutter add peanuts turn a shade darker, add the kadle/fried gram and kobbari slices.
  • Keep moving the contents around in the hot oil with a spatula and let them roast for 2-3 minutes. Keep the heat on medium.
  • When peanuts look crunchy and the kobbari slices develop a light brown hue, add the raisins, turmeric powder, salt and the powdered masala mix.
  • Reduce the heat to minimum, add the thin poha and sugar (if using) and stir it all in to coat the poha with the seasoning.
  • Adjust salt if needed. Keep the heat to the lowest and with frequent stirring to prevent any browning at the bottom, roast the poha for another 15-20 minutes or until it crisps up and gets lightly glossy.
  • Let it come to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.  
  • Green chilies need to be blistered and crunchy, this reduces their spice level but gives you an option to break them into the Chivda if you like your portion spicier. If you leave the chilies soft, it will soften up the chivda with its moisture content and makes it chewy.
  • Since I make this often at home, I have achieved a synchronous balance of when to add each ingredient into the seasoning without over/under cooking any of them. If this sounds daunting to you, you may want to roast each of the ingredient sepearately and bring them together on heat before adding the poha.
  • Packaged poha can sometimes have a faint smell, open the packet and spread it out in a single layer and keep it in a sunny spot for an hour or so before using it.
  • It is important to keep the pan on low heat once you add the poha, high heat makes the poha flakes curl up. If you live in a hot climate, sun dry the poha until it crisps up for best taste.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

happy Diwali! Chivda with colorful decoration is really wonderful. i like and i need some more healthy recipes from you dear!

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Our family is a big fan of the Lonavla chikkis and ofcourse the chivda..Though I make a version of it in the microwave..I don't add the spice powder you mentioned...the powder must sure make the chivda more flavorful..will try adding the next time

Nandita SS said...

Chivda looks so delicious!!! Happy Deepavali Nagasree :)

Nagashree said...

Kaveri - the spice powder is an addition I learnt from a North Karnataka friend from Gokurna. Try it and let me know how you like it.

Nandita - Happy Deepavali to you too.

Priya Suresh said...

Omg, Lonavla chikkis are my favourite, havent had them since a long.. Trust me this poha chivda is my all time favourite, if i feel down ,i'll make them and enjoy to get rid of my stress, love it that much.Love the addition of dry coconut here.

Swathi Iyer said...

Delicious Chivida Love it Nagashree, Lonavala chikki is my favorite.

Sayantani said...

love chivda and yours look awesome.