Chivda cheap & charred

One of the best things about chivda is its versatility. When recipes are more oral tradition than Martha Stewart, you can throw anything into them, make them yours, compensate for a missed or mispriced ingredient. In December, I started making my own chivda because buying it for $5+ per pound felt like cheating and because the restaurant I buy it from closes at 9 p.m. That’s prime bed-time. I never made it, and then I had to bring Entemann’s to the office breakfast potluck.

Anyway, I love chivda. It’s great at parties. Salt-sugar-sour is a most-compelling taste sensation. It’s just fun to eat, to sift through, to talk about.

I began my chivda chronicles here: The how-to video is great and my six-year-old loved to follow along with Manjula. However, I quickly reversed course on the cereal base. The rice krispies were too sweet and didn’t blend well with the spices. I bought a 500-gram bag of murmura, amplified the spices by a bit, threw in my cherries and waited for the potluck invites to pour in.

Tonight I was missing the shoestring potatoes. I had no cumin seed. That box of cornflakes had been taunting me for weeks. I tried to find a murmura-based recipe that didn’t require either of the missing ingredients, but everything was coming up poha – the seemingly delicate white rice flakes. Finally I found one that called for an 8:2 powa to murmura recipe. I decided to consider the corn flakes poha and move on.

What follows is a cautionary tale and an offer of free, charred chivda.

Curry leaves are fun.

Curry leaves are fun.

*Roast the poha and corn flakes in a large, dry sauce pan. Consider crumbling the cornflakes first. Remember: they heat quickly and burn easily.

*Use split dalia in place of cashews if you don’t have any, but don’t overdo it. Some recipes call for peanuts, almonds, cashews and pine nuts and pipian. Ignore them and just throw in crunchy things that can withstand heat and spice if you want to keep this chivda budget-friendly.

*Add 1/4 cup of raisins.

*Garam masala can be substituted for cumin seed. Sort of.

*If the finished chivda tastes like it looks – slightly charred – add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of amchoor (mango) powder. It will help just a little by souring the charred the flavor.

*Go ahead and use all 12 chilies.

*Curry leaves are fun.

*No matter what the end product looks/tastes like, take it to your office. Someone will eat it.

Well, now I still have no cherries but lots of gently singed chivda. I suppose it would do well on hikes, at camp, with a cup of coffee after a rainy spring trail run. If you’ve read this far, dammit you deserve some of “Angie’s Smokey Blend Chivda.” Just ask.


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