Carrie Bradshaw on chex mix, cherries, chivda

Tonight at the food co-op it got real. In my attempts to curb a distracting and defeating late-night cookie habit I’ve been turning to dried fruit. Namely, the dried tart cherry. For several weeks now it has ca-chinged at the register @ $16.99/pound. I buy it in quarter-pound increments and drop the glossy, pruny treats into everything from oats to yogurt to my hand.
Tonight they were $18.99/pound. I grabbed a box of cookies — for support — collected myself, decided to keep the peanut-butter-sandwich cremes anyway and found myself a co-op employee.

“Commodities,” he said. “All the prices are going up. We’ve tried to absorb costs as much as we could.”

One of his favorites, the roasted salted peanut, is inching skyward in cost as well.

“Will chex mix be the new caviar?” I tapped into my iPhone like some penny-pinching Carrie Bradshaw.

Reflectively, I drove home with my peanut butter cremes – munching and resigning myself to deleting dried tart cherries from one of my go-to Indian recipes: chivda.

Chivda is this spicy/sweet/sour Maharashtran snack mix. You can make it with rice krispies & corn flakes, jagged and flat rice flakes called poha, or mumra – a puffed rice. There are about as many different recipes for chivda (CHAVE-da) as there are for chex mix, but they’re all better than chex mix. Tempered spices, toasted nuts, dried fruits are the dominant additives. Garlic, coconut, chick peas and other items can play supporting roles. Nobody ever adds M&Ms, but I think pretzels would be okay. Actually, peanut M&Ms might work if the toasted powa/mumra doesn’t melt them first. Golden raisins are preferred, but once you add the turmeric the entire dish glows a toasty yellow-brown and you can’t see them. No fun. Plus golden raisins are a pushover in terms of texture, and they don’t hold up well compared to the dalia (roasted chick peas, I’d use them halved or split – not whole), peanuts and the crack of roasted cornflakes. Curry leaves and green chilies are non-negotiable ingredients. You need oil to heat and pop the mustard seeds, and to adhere the spices that come next to each other and the mumra or poha. Then you’re done.

Cherries have been my signature Wisconsin contribution to chivda since I began blogging for Chutney Challenged the New York Post. Tarter, tougher, redder than raisins they stood up so boldly to everything else chivda has to offer. Until tonight.

Once the kids were in bed, I put on my snoopy flannel pants from T.J. Maxx Manolo Blahnik slippers and Dolce jersey pajamas, busted out my laptop, a box of cornflakes and proceeded to make a budget batch of chivda. If Aidan liked it, I knew it wouldn’t mean much. That guy is a carpenter and he eats anything. But if Big likes my budget chivda…

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. molly
    Mar 14, 2013 @ 00:10:43

    I miss Carrie. I really do. She’s one of the few fictional characters I really loved. It’s that underlying sweetness beneath all the NY sophistication and sass.


    • Chutney Challenged
      Mar 14, 2013 @ 14:37:49

      I did like her naive, sometimes goofy “questions” that led every episode. Feels like such an old-fashioned approach to essay-ism. Or that time she said: “You don’t go to Napa, you take a-Napa.” She was a bit dorky like that, and it was nice. But I always wondered how they could all the rent and all the clothes.


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