I don’t need a festival like Diwali to enjoy my delicious stash of ‘chivda’ or ‘chiwda’. I make it throughout the year whenever my stocks are low, mainly to satisfy my untimely but guilt-free snack hunger pangs. Also, I enjoy savoury breakfasts a tad more than sweet ones and this Maharashtrian chiwda ticks all my boxes on hectic weekdays when I need something speedy with my morning chai.
What is chiwda or chivda?
Chiwda is a savoury yet mildly sweet mixture of deep-fried lentils, nuts, raisins, herbs and spices tossed together with a starchy staple like rice or corn that’s usually flattened or puffed and then roasted to give it a crunchy texture. In India, people often make with either flattened or puffed rice but in recent years innovative chiwdas made with corn and millet have also become popular. Though the ingredients may vary it’ll always have a good crunch, spice, and a bit of tang with subtle hints of sweetness.
No matter what type of chiwda I make, I always prepare in bulk to enjoy it as a mid-evening snack or morning breakfast. Did I mention just how much I appreciate savoury breakfasts over the sweet ones that are popular in the UK?
This vegan and gluten-free Indian snack mix comes in handy on a busy weekday when there’s no time to cook breakfast but you want to satiate that urgent craving for a reasonably healthy but tasty savoury breakfast.
What is pohe chivda or poha chiwda?
Pohe chiwda or ‘pohyancha chivda’ (as we call it in my mother tongue) is a savoury and crunchy snack mix of flattened rice, fried lentils, nuts, herbs and spices with subtle hints of sweet-tangy flavours. This is a Maharashtrian recipe with flavours and techniques that I have refined over the years so that it retains its crunch even after several weeks of storage. I have adjusted the spices, herbs and various elements in this snack to suit my own palate. So this recipe is very close to my heart and a firm favourite for any Diwali ‘faral’ and other Indian festivals.
How does this chiwda taste?
On the face of it, this gluten-free and vegan chiwda is just another spicy Indian snack but each little bowlful packs a multitude of different flavours that work wonderfully together. First, you get the savoury spiciness from the garlic, chilli, coriander and cumin. Next, there are the more subtle sweet and sour notes from the tangy chaat masala, black salt, a touch of sugar and mint. But what I love the most are those little surprises that make each mouthful different. First I might get a nutty treat from a roasted peanut or almond. And then suddenly, my tastebuds stumble upon a raisin or coconut slither. All this, whilst I am munching on the crunchy texture of those wholesome rice flakes. There’s joy in every spoonful I tell you!
What is pudina flavoured poha chiwda?
The name is pretty self-explanatory. This chiwda recipe has hints of fresh mint and this adds another layer to its flavour profile.
What is the secret to keeping the chiwda crispy for longer?
If you don’t want the rice flakes to go soft and chewy, then a final roasting step is the key. Rather than roasting the rice flakes at the beginning, I roast the entire chiwda at the end. This gets rid of any residual moisture from all the ingredients. The finished chiwda is then cooled completely before being transferred to air-tight containers.
Storing pohe chiwda
This chiwda stays fresh and crispy for more than a month in an airtight moisture-free container.
Pudina Poha Chiwda / Pudinyacha Chivda / Mint Flavoured Flattened Rice SnackCourse: Starter, BreakfastCuisine: Indian, MaharashtrianDifficulty: Medium
500g thin flattened rice (called ‘pohe’ or ‘poha’)
65g (½ cup) split roasted gram lentils
200g whole peanuts with skin on
25g (¼ cup) coconut (thinly sliced)
35g (¼ cup|) raisin
35g (¼ cup) whole almonds with skin on
25g (¼ cup) cashews
8 green chillies (chopped into 1 cm pieces)
3 green chillies whole
5 garlic cloves (sliced)
5 garlic cloves whole
10g (¼ tight cup) fresh mint leaves
20 curry leaves
50g (¼ cup) icing sugar
1 tbsp black salt
½ tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp roasted cumin and coriander powder
1 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chaat masala
100g (½ cup) vegetable oil
4 tbsp additional vegetable oil for second tempering
- Essential equipment
Coarse & fine sieves
Large flat plate
Two dry wooden spatulas for mixing
- Grind 3 whole green chillies and 5 whole garlic cloves together with the washed fresh mint to a paste and keep aside.
- Sift the flattened rice over a large flat plate or a silver foil-lined flat surface to separate small broken bits and husk.
- Using a couple of wooden spatulas, thoroughly mix the salt, black salt, icing sugar, chaat masala and roasted cumin-coriander powder together with the flattened or beaten rice flakes.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil over a low to medium flame and splutter the mustard seeds, followed by the cumin seeds. Then add the whole peanuts. After about 30 seconds, add the remaining chopped green chillies followed by the curry leaves and chopped garlic. Stir and mix everything together for 30-40 seconds. The curry leaves should look crispy by this time.
- Throw in the whole almonds followed by cashews, followed by sliced coconut. Let it cook for 30 seconds over a low to medium flame.
- Add the roasted split lentil, then turmeric powder, then sesame seeds and asafoetida. Cook until the coconut, peanut and the sliced garlic starts looking light brown. It may take between 30 seconds and a minute to get everything fried to the correct light brown colour.
- Tip the entire tempering, whilst still hot, over the flattened rice flake mixture. Mix thoroughly but gently using a couple of wooden spatulas. Ensure the salt, icing sugar, mixed in earlier, blends evenly with the tempered mixture and flattened rice flakes, without breaking them.
- In the same frying pan, heat the additional oil over a low to medium flame. Tip in the garlic, chilli and mint paste from step 1 and fry for a minute, ensuring the paste doesn’t go brown. Then pour the tempering over the flattened rice mixture and mix well. Also, chuck the raisins into the rice mixture, as they are, and stir gently one more time.
- Once all the ingredients have been thoroughly mixed, the ‘chiwda’ will look light green in colour. At this point, either roast the mixture in small batches in the same frying pan used earlier over a low flame or spread it out on a foil lined baking tray and roast in a preheated oven at 160℃ (or 320℉) for 20 minutes whilst stirring every 10 minutes.
- Once the entire mixture is roasted and cooled, transfer into dry, sterilised airtight jars. It will stay crunchy as long as it lasts. It keeps well for about 5-6 weeks in an airtight container.
Top-Tips and Notes
- 1. Get all your ingredients ready before you start cooking. You won’t have time to rummage through your cupboards whilst frying.
- 2. Fry over a low to medium flame, otherwise you risk burning some of the ingredients.
- 3. When frying, add the ingredients in the order mentioned in the recipe otherwise some may burn.
- 4. Always mix and stir the chiwda gently; pohe flakes are delicate.
- 5. Always sift rather than plonking the icing sugar and black salt straight into the chiwda. This helps remove lumps before mixing.
- 6. Make sure all utensils and vessels used to prepare the chiwda are dry otherwise the rice flakes may become soggy.
- 7. The salt, sugar and the chillies in this recipe are a matter of personal taste so please adjust accordingly.
- 8. If roasting the chiwda in a frying pan, the flame should be low. Also, continue stirring until the rice flakes become crispy. This could take from 10 to 20 minutes on a low flame setting. Turn off the flame immediately if the rice flakes start to brown.
- 9. The chiwda should be stored in an airtight jar, but a steel jar with a tight-fitting lid will do at a pinch. Line the lid with greaseproof paper before closing the lid so that the lid fits as tightly as possible.