'Paani, cheeni se kam hona chahiye', mum replied that the quantity of water should be less than sugar. I had called in to ask the ratio of sugar and water for the syrup before setting out to make this chikki.
"Agar ek katori cheeni hai to kitna paani?' I re worded the question knowing that if at all, sometimes she measures using katori (small bowl).The reply remained the same 'Paani kam aur cheeni jyada' (more sugar, less water). I gave up knowing that those teaspoons and cups that I am slowly becoming slave to, have no place in her kitchen.
There, lies the beauty of Indian cooking,everything done with accurate approximations, andaza.There isn't a need to fish through kitchen drawers ahead of cooking to locate cups and spoons, neither to flip through recipe books because there aren't any written ones. My mum and aunts could cook off an entire meal discussing the neighbour's daughter in law, it's just eyeballing,tasting and adjusting the flavors in between. There are no hard and fast rules, the methods are traditional,the food comes out wonderful each time. It's all about cooking with good impulse and feeling.Though it takes while to learn those techniques and pointers to dish out your bestest recipes, but once you are on it, you can trust your gut for the lifetime.
I never understood the 'taar' or the number of strings method that they use to make sugar syrup for indian sweets. Putting it in a very lame way, after a few minutes of bubbling, you are supposed to squeeze the boiling sugar (ouch! ) between your thumb and index finger and count the number of strings formed to know if the right consistency has been reached.Again, something which comes with experience.
Making this chikkiÂ from scratch has been one of the most brave things I have done this summer. Studded with lots of nuts and seeds, edible gum resin (gond), not only is this good for you, but you can play around with the type and quantity of nuts in the recipe. Do Â make this delicious snackageÂ for the upcoming winter months, it promises to keep you warm and happy.
In my family, makana or foxnuts and coconut are the main ingredients in making this.Read about foxnuts in one of my earlier posts here.
Edible Gum or gond is an extract from the bark of gum tree and is used a lot in indian sweets. It is either white or brown in color, crystal like. When cooked in oil, it puffs up like popcorn and turns opaque. It provides heat to the body and is usually eaten in cold winter months. In India, it is very much used during postpartum of women since it strengthens the body and helps in lactation of new mothers.
- 2 cupsÂ makhanaÂ (foxnuts), roughly chopped
- 2 tbspÂ gondÂ (edible gum resin)
- ¾ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ½ cup coconut shavings
- ¼ cup melon seeds
- ¾ cup raisins
- 3 tbspÂ ghee, divided
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- few saffron strands soaked in ½ tablespoon of warm water (optional)
Also needed - Any well-greased plate/thaaliÂ or simply line your brownie sheet with parchment.
- If you are using edible gum,make sure that it is completely dry (you can keep it in sun for few hours), else it will not bloom well when you roast it.
- Feel free to use any kind of nuts or seeds in this recipe. If you cannot find foxnuts or edible gum, you can increase the quantity of coconut, almond or walnut by equivalent amount.
- Use sunflower/pumpkin/pepitas in place of melon seeds.
- Add crasins, dried cherries, cranberries, dehydrated blueberries or raspberries to this recipe.
In a heavy bottomed pan orÂ kadhai, on low-medium heat, warm up 1 tablespoon ofÂ ghee.Â Add the sliced foxnuts and lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add another ½ tablespoon of ghee in theÂ kadhaiÂ and add almonds, walnuts and coconut shavings to it. Lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Take care that the nuts do not change color. Transfer to the large bowl.
Next, on very low heat add another 1 tablespoon of ghee and add theÂ gondÂ crystals. Keep on stirring constantly, the crystals will puff up and turn opaque as they roast. This will take Â about 1-2 minutes.Â Transfer to the large bowl.
Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of ghee to theÂ kadhaiÂ and roast the melon seeds on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the raisins. Stir again for 1 minutes or so. Transfer to the large bowl.
Mix all the roasted nuts and seeds well in the large bowl and let sit for 5-8 minutes so that they cool down a bit.
Keep your greased plate or parchment lined dish ready.I used a 9' X 2' brownie pan to set theÂ chikki.
Pour water and sugar into theÂ kadhaiÂ next and bring to a boil on medium heat. When the sugar starts to bubble around the edges, add cardamom powder, soaked saffron and reduce heat and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.Remove from heat and immediately pour over the roasted nuts. Stir everything quickly using a spatula so that the nuts are coated in sugar and transfer to the setting plate/pan. Lightly press with hands or spoon to spread out to a uniform thickness. Let sit at room temperature to completely cool down.
Break into desired size chunks or pieces.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping Â by!