One of the things I've learned how to cook is chivda, a spicy snack that I call Indian crack. My friend Manisha brought it to a stitch 'n' bitch and I was immediately hooked. A bunch of us went out for Indian food and shopped at Bombay Bazaar, where I got the ingredients to make chivda myself. If you have an Indian grocery nearby, you can stock up on all the dry goods for multiple batches. The only fresh ingredients you need are Thai chiles and curry leaves (kadipatta). The latter are in high demand, so you may need to call ahead to make sure they're in stock. (I might try to track down a curry plant to keep in a pot.)
- Thin poha, which is pounded rice flakes. One batch of chivda uses half a 2-pound bag
- Raw peanuts
- Daliya (roasted dal)
- mustard seeds
- sesame seeds
- cumin seeds
- curry leaves
- Thai chiles
- asafoetida (hing). This is a pungent powdered resin that is critical to the flavor of many Indian dishes. A warning, though: If you are gluten intolerant, you need to find the kind that is suspended in rice flour rather than the more common wheat starch. Check the label. You can buy the wheat-free kind online.
- turmeric powder
- sea salt
- citric acid crystals (optional)
- ghee (clarified butter)
- vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
Because Manisha already posted the recipe, consider this post an adjunct with newbie notes. Click here for Manisha's recipe.
A couple of things I learned: A deep, non-stick pan works very well for this recipe.
If you have a mortar and pestle, you can use it to grind the salt and citric acid crystals to a fine powder, as well as the sugar. I saw this suggested in another version of this recipe. Maybe it's not necessary, but it helps me justify my mortar-and-pestle purchase.
When you are cooking the chiles and curry leaves, you don't need to wait more than a minute before adding the rest of the ingredients. I thought the chiles needed to be crispier, but they do continue to cook, so I ended up with them just this side of burned the first time I made this.
When you add the poha at the end, toss it gently, just turning it over and over with a spatula to coat it. If you stir vigorously, you'll break up the flakes and the curry leaves too much.
One batch is a lot! I took my first batch to work and it lasted a few days. The people who liked it really liked it. The people who didn't, well, I didn't hear from them.
The next time I need to make a snack for a party, I'm taking chivda.