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Pohyacha Chivda, or, Chivda (savory mixture) made of Pohé (flattened rice), is a popular snack item in India. Light, customizable and a perfect accompaniment to a cup of steaming hot chai, it is the perfect “in between” to hold you over until dinner time. It is also heavily featured in Diwali “faraaL” (feast) along with other savory and sweet goodies. It is easy to make, keeps for weeks, and at least in our neck of the woods, we don’t wait for Diwali to whip some up!
It’s important to source the right ingredients for this recipe, most important of all being the Pohé. There are many kinds of flattened rice flakes available in Indian grocery stores, so be sure to choose the “thin”, “ultra thin” or “nylon” variety for this recipe! You could use thick Pohé but that’s a different recipe (mainly you would have to deep-fry the Pohé instead of just dry roasting them). The ingredient list may seem overwhelming but ingredients should be easily available, and you can also leave a couple things out if you can’t find them!
The prep (besides measuring) is minimal – you just need to chop the green chillies and dry coconut pieces. The relative quantities of the ingredients can also be adjusted according to your preference.
We start by dry roasting the Pohé on low flame in a large, heavy-bottom pan. You are not looking for a change of color, just removing the moisture content and toasting ever so slightly.
The edges of the flakes will start to curl up in just a few minutes, so watch closely. Stir the flakes by shaking the pan around or gently with a spatula. Set aside, keep warm.
Then, one by one, we fry the next 4 ingredients, which provide a great sweet-savory taste and textural contrast to the chivda. Fry each ingredient one at a time, just until it takes on a slight color. Be careful not to over-brown.
Set everything aside on a paper-towel lined plate for later! Try not to eat it all before it goes into the Chivda.
Then we make the tempering (tadka) for the chivda, with the curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric, asafetida, sugar, citric acid and salt.
And then, all you have to do is mix everything together while it is still warm! It is important to adjust the salt levels while the mixture is warm, so it mixes easily. If you oversalt it, don’t worry – you can just add 1/4 cup or so of toasted Pohé, or some more flash-fried peanuts/coconut pieces, and you’ll be all set!
Enjoy warm right away or store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long).
• Recipe •
Makes about 6 cups of Chivda. The suggested quantities of the ingredients (peanuts, coconut, daalva, raisins) can also be adjusted according to your preference.
5-6 cups thin Pohé (flattened rice flakes, packaged as “thin”, “ultra thin” or “nylon”; do not use the “thick” variety for this recipe)
3/4 cup peanuts, skin-on
1/2 cup dry coconut pieces, roughly chopped
1/2 cup daalva, or roasted bengal gram (chana) dal
1/4 cup golden raisins
10-15 curry leaves, whole
6-8 green chillies (thai), chopped into big pieces
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon crystalized sugar
2-3 pinches citric acid (optional)
1 teaspoon (or to taste) table salt
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
In a large, heavy-bottom pan, dry roast the Pohé on low flame. You are not looking for a change of color, just removing the moisture content and toasting ever so slightly. The edges of the flakes will start to curl up in just a few minutes, so watch closely. Stir the flakes by shaking the pan around or gently with a spatula. Set aside, keep warm.
In a small saucepan, heat the 3/4 cup of oil on low-medium heat until shimmering. Fry the peanuts for 2-3 minutes until they take on a slight color, and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set onto a paper-towel lined plate. In the same manner, one at a time, for 2-3 minutes each, fry the dry coconut slices (until lightly browned), followed by daalva (until lightly browned), and finally golden raisins (until plump). Set aside in a paper-towel lined plate.
You may choose to strain the remaining oil for the next step (but if it has too many burnt bits of peanut skins or coconut, do not use it as it may lend a bitter taste).
Wipe out the saucepan and add 1 1/2 tablespoon, and heat until shimmering. Add the curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric, asafetida, sugar, citric acid and salt, and stir well until the curry leaves take on a slight color and the mixture is sizzling.
Return the pan with Pohe to a low flame and pour the tempering along with the mixture of fried peanuts, coconut pieces, daalva and raisins onto the toasted Pohe and gently combine everything using 2 wooden spoons or rubber spatulas, taking care not to crush the Pohe! Adjust salt levels while still warm.
Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. Enjoy as a perfect snack with your chai, or as part of a Diwali feast.