Guilt-free Chivda / Puffed Rice Mixture - An Indian Savoury Snack (GF, V)
Most people in India like snacking as much as they like their sweets. Here, by and large, we tend to eat 4 to 5 times a day just like the doctor ordered. We have breakfast which is mostly savoury, then something light (down South this is usually a glass of spiced buttermilk or fruit) for “elevenses”, a mid-day lunch, tea or coffee in the evening usually accompanied by something crunchy and then dinner.
In the part of the world where I come from, people used to get up very early at about 5am.
My grandparents and the generations before that didn’t really have a concept of breakfast. They had coffee in the morning and then had lunch by about 10 or 11am.
Evening coffee (or tea sometimes) was around 3pm and accompanied by some sort of “tiffin” which was a little heavier than a snack but lighter than a full meal.
They then had dinner by about 7pm. In-between hunger pangs were usually satisfied with spiced buttermilk or bananas.
With a change from an agrarian lifestyle to one that’s a “10 to 5” day at work or more stressful corporate sort of living, all that’s changed. Even as I child I could never get used to my grandparents’ style of meals because I was used to eating breakfast, so we had an almost 5-times-a-day style of eating.
There is a perception outside the country that Indian sweets are very sweet but I feel they’re not all that sweeter than many cakes I see, and that the savoury snacks are heavy because they’re deep-fried.
There is some truth in that, but traditionally Indians ate sweets mostly only on festive days and other special occasions so they were treats mostly. The same went for the heavier or more calorie laden savoury snacks. Everyday snacking used to be healthier.
With a change in eating choices and a desire for different tastes and more variety in our food, it becomes more difficult to keep eating healthy when it comes to tea time snacks, especially with children (and adults) who tend find junk food attractive.
I personally have a love for “crunchy munchies on the whole and a tendency to snack on them which I try to keep in check. Tea or coffee and something savoury and crunchy to munch are a match made in heaven. And if it can be healthy, one doesn’t have to carry the guilt of the snack around.
This Chivda is something I make at home which satisfies my cravings for crunch without the guilt. Chivda/ Chevdo/ Chiwda (or mixture as it popularly known in South India, and the name is self-explanatory) is an Indian savoury snack that is made all over India.
There are as many recipes as there are makers of Chivda but it is usually includes a mix of spices, deep-fried chickpea flour vermicelli or small fritters, some type of puffed rice or beaten rice flakes, peanuts or cashewnuts and raisins among other ingredients.
It is made for Diwali, carried in lunch and snacks boxes to work and school and one of those things that’s good to have on hand when unexpected guests drop in for tea.
Think of it as an Indian version of the American Trail mix! This version of mine doesn’t have any deep-fried ingredients and is non-traditional in some sense because there’s cornflakes in it. If you can’t puffed rice (murmura/ motta pori), you can substitute beaten rice flakes (poha/ aval) after roasting it till crisp.
- Lightly roast the cornflakes. Roast the gram separately till golden, do not brown. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a deep pan, brown the raisins and remove.
- To the same oil, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, then add peanuts and lightly roast. Add the asafoetida, curry leaves, chilli powder and sugar. Mix once and switch off the heat.
- Now add the puffed rice, cornflakes, roasted gram, raisins and salt. Remember that cornflakes and puffed rice contain salt. Store the Chivda in an airtight container.
This makes a largish batch of Chivda. Serve with coffee or tea or when the craving to munch hits!