If you belong to the Kannada, Maharashtrian or Gujarati community, or have had the opportunity to get to know people from them closely, we bet you've heard of chivda. Whether as an accompaniment to their evening cup of tea or as a crunchy snack to bring along on long journeys -- chivda is relished by most of India. The flattened rice is the main ingredient (in chivda recipes), while additions include anything from roasted gram, dried coconut and fried curry leaves to mustard and cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli powder, asafoetida and peanuts. The Kannada community prefers poha (flaked rice), while in Maharashtra, people stick to churmuri. In Nashik, you can expect to find sev, boondi (fried gram flour balls), roasted green peas, roasted putana (Bengal gram), roasted moong dal (split and whole), dry poha seasoned with oil, fried poha mixed with putana and roasted peanuts, deep fried cornflakes, and garnishes such as coriander, chopped onions and tangy lemon in the chivda. The Kondaji chivda there is the stuff of legend.
In Maharashtrian households you will find large boxes of traditional chivda, made with poha and murmura (puffed rice). The recipe, a staple Diwali snack, is a favourite tea-time nibble for the community. Several variations of the chivda exist, with different types in Nashik and Pune. Kolhapuri chivda packs more of a punch with an array of spices.
The simplest recipe (made in most homes) will require 2 cups of mumura (puffed rice), 1 cup poha (flaked rice), ½ cup peanuts, oil to deep fry everything, 1tbsp asafoetida, a small pinch of salt to taste, ½ tbsp turmeric powder, 3-4 chopped green chillies and a few curry leaves. Go here to find simple instructions for the traditional Maharashtrian chivda. If you want to add an exotic touch to the dish, throw in some roasted nuts or raisins.
In the above episode of the podcast, we delve deeper into the roots of chivda, as we speak to people who've been selling the traditional version for decades as well as to those who are mixing it with innovative ingredients (for instance: chocolate!) to give the homemade snack a more modern twist.