Sunday, 8 December 2013

Chivalrous Chivda – the unsung hero

Patal Pohyacha Chivda (Thin Poha Chivda)

Photos by Amruta Nargundkar 

Diwali is done and dusted and all the industrious food bloggers have progressed to preparing Christmas goodies, but I can’t seem to relocate my food focus without apposite valediction to one unassuming, unsung hero.

There may be scores of stars like laadus, burfi, gulab jamun, karanjis or gujiyas, shankarpale and anarase that emblazon Diwali. Crisp and savoury snacks like shev, chakali, kadboli add sizzle to balance the taste buds.  But there is only one dependable knight “in a rather drab” armour among the Diwali dramatis personae – the gallant chivda!

It doesn't take much effort or cost to make a big bin full of chivda. Not much can go wrong with the chivda, unless you are determined to ruin it by charring the peanuts, starving the chivda of essential emollients by scrounging on the oil, or leaving the poha limp and listless and not being vigilant in ensuring the copra isn’t rancid.

It’s got staying power; in that the chivda can be used to bolster the plates or packets that you send to neighbours. When you receive plated bits and bobs in reciprocation, you can in turn pick out eminent stuff and chuck the uninspiring neighbourhood chivdas all together. The versatile and democratic constitution of the chivda allows a seamless amalgamation that comes in handy when all your homemade goodies are on the brink of exhaustion and you need to entertain unannounced guests.  

Though it is not something your guests reach out for at the first go during a Diwali party, the gallant chivda rushes to your rescue when some holier-than-thou guest spurns your rich offerings and heads for some low calorie stuff. And don’t forget, as a gifted taste-bud whisperer, the chivda joins forces with chaha or chai to soothe high-strung, cloyed and feast-worn palates.

While the stars take centre stage during the four-day long festivities, the self-effacing, courteous chivda stays in the wings, stepping in with unswerving loyalty when the festivities finish and all else is spent. Quite like the amigo who brings you a cup of tea when you capsize into a chair after the “barat” has left the mandap.

The true vindication of the chivda comes only in the end, when as a true benefactor it braves decimation each passing day getting shorn of cashewnuts, peanuts and copra slices by inconsiderate, fussy pickers. The chivda is a self-sacrificing, yet happy donor that will put any knacker to shame. It is willing to repose its remains in a missal with hot and spicy sprout usal, chopped tomatoes and onions. Even the sweet and salty spluttered mustard seed dregs find their way into a dal, chutney or subji in my kitchen, while the fried red chillies come in handy as garnish.

All that remains is the comforting memory, till the next time I make another bin-full of the chivalrous chivda.

Patal Pohyacha Chivda (Thin Poha Chivda)


4 cups thin poha, sieved and picked clean
1cup small raw peanuts
½ cup cashew nuts
1 cup roasted chana 
½ cup thick grated dry coconut or thin slices of copra
3-4 dried red chilies, broken
 2-3 green chillies, chopped
A handful of curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp white poppy seeds
A little turmeric powder
½ tsp hing
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp caster sugar or powdered sugar
Oil - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste.


Heat oil in a large kadai. Add mustard seeds to splutter and then the peanuts. Lightly roast the peanuts and then add green chillies, curry leaves. Let the chillies and curry leaves start to get crisp, and then add red chillies, cashew nuts, roasted chana dal, grated coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds. Make sure not to burn any of these nuts and seeds.  Then add the cumin and coriander powders, hing and turmeric. Remove from heat.

Quickly introduce the poha, add salt to taste and the sugar and mix well. Put the kadhai back on very low heat, stirring the chivda continuously until the entire lot suddenly starts to become lighter. Immediately remove from heat.  Allow the chivda to cool down and get crisp. 

Store in an airtight container so the chivda stays crisp for a long time.


  1. Nice Crunchy Chivda! looks delicious :)

    1. I have the perfect accompaniment with the chivda. Amazon shipped off my copy of 'A Ragdoll after my Heart.' I shall celebrate Diwali reading it while munching on the chivda. Wish you and the family a glorious festival of lights.

    2. So nice ! I am remembering one Diwali when I had got some jalebis for you and your dad! Miss those days... Hope you and Bob have a great Diwali too!

  2. They sit,
    cheek by jowl,
    some in tatters,
    some quietly listening
    Watching it all
    unfolding on the stage

    Some Peanut Bhaus,
    desperate to fall
    hot into the fray,
    when they see
    some green Mirchiakkas
    flirting with some
    stiff Kadhipatta types.

    And then
    some spoilsport Red Chilly netas,
    feeling all ignored,
    thoughtlessly joining the fray
    causing some jealous fumes.

    The opportunistic
    Cashew and Chana offspring,
    falling in
    to acquire
    their share of a golden future,
    and all the while,
    the volunteering Mustards,
    Sesames, Khuskhuses
    keep crackling and nudging
    complaining to
    the Coconut slices,
    getting angry,
    egged on by the
    waiting Turmeric
    and short tempered Hing.

    The Pohas
    cannot sit by.
    For sixty years,
    they have been thrown
    into the hot inflated oils,
    and emerged,
    burnt, scathed,
    but unbowed,
    and they have learned.

    The time has come to take the plunge.

    The Aam Pohas
    rise as one,
    wait for things to cool,
    and before you can say C_H_I_V_D_A
    they have thrown themselves,
    heart and soul
    into the fray,
    actively mixing around ,
    observing folks,
    communicating intelligently,
    well aided by
    salt and sugar advice
    and support from
    local Corainders and Cumins
    all given with
    such stirring eloquence.

    For the ordinary
    normally ignored Aam Pohas,
    a great united debut
    into a public Chivda life.

    Way up on the shelves,
    the Motichoor Laddoo High Command,
    and Chakli General Secretaries,
    with the tearful Karanjees,
    and desperate Anarsaas
    can only watch
    the successful debut
    of the
    Aam Poha Chivda Party.


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