Chivalrous Chivda – the unassuming unsung hero – By Shruti Nargundkar
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 scrimping on the oil, or
leaving the poha limp and listless. The ultimate insult one can accord to a chivda
is failure to ensure the copra isn’t rancid.
The chivda has got staying power; in that it 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 the 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 savoury 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 sweet and savoury snack 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 by 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
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.
Here’s a poem by Suranga Datey, penned spontaneously on reading about the proletarian Chivda,
which stays on, loyally, to cater to nibbling pangs, sometimes in association with even onions and
tomatoes, long after the Divali excesses are over and done with.
This was when the Aam Aadmi Party (Ordinary peoples' party) had fought the Delhi elections, and had
challenged established political parties.
Our unsung hero now has political aspirations!
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.
some spoilsport Red Chilly netas,
feeling all ignored,
thoughtlessly joining the fray
causing some jealous fumes.
Cashew and Chana offspring,
their share of a golden future,
and all the while,
the volunteering Mustards,
keep crackling and nudging
the Coconut slices,
egged on by the
and short tempered Hing.
cannot sit by.
For sixty years,
they have been thrown
into the hot inflated oils,
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 ,
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
Aam Poha Chivda Party.