Dry Fruit Chikki is a popular and traditional ready to eat Indian candy made with a mix of almond, cashew, pista, sugar and ghee or oil. Traditionally dry fruits or sweets are given or received as gifts during diwali festival.
Chikki is a very common sweet available anywhere in India. You often find groundnut chikki made with groundnuts and jaggery available in most of the shops from a very small tea stall to a big mall. Other popular variety of Chikkis are Til (sesame seeds) Chikki, Kaju Chikki (made with cashew nuts), Flax seeds Chikki (made from flax seeds also known as ‘alsi’), Shredded Coconut Chikki (made with coconut shreds). Dry fruit Chikki is usually a special variety of chikki as prepared mostly during festivities or occasions.
Dry fruit chikki is a yummy snack that is commonly prepared on Lohri, a popular harvest festival celebrated in the states of Punjab, Haryani, Delhi and some parts of Himachal Pradesh. Along with preparing the dry fruit chikki, they also prepare a variety of traditional foods on this festival. The dry fruit chikki is incredibly made from jaggery and is enriched with various dry fruits like almonds, pistas and cashew nuts. It is easy to prepare, tasty and healthy to eat.
Initially Chikki just started from a single flavor of jaggery and peanuts. But today there are tons of different exotic flavors available in the market. Each chikki is named depending upon the ingredients used. Some chikkis are made using a combination of these ingredients. Usually, ingredients such as puffed/roasted bengal gram, sesame, puffed rice, beaten rice, and Khobara (desiccated coconut) are used. In regions of North India especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar it is also called as Layyiya Patti. Most of these popular varieties of Chikkis are sourced from Indian towns of Lanavala, Matheran and Karjat, outskirts of Mumbai region. Chikki is also extremely popular in Brazil and is known as pé-de-moleque (boy’s foot).
Preparing a classic and traditional Chikki is very simple and consists of very few ingredients mostly available at every Kitchen. A nice delicious sticky string syrup in made with hot jaggery and minimum of water and the nuts are added, mixed well to coat them with the syrup flavored with some freshly ground cardamom powder and then this mixture is either transfer into moulds or poured into greased plate till they set and become a bit hard. They are cut into square, rectangular or diamond shapes and packed. Sometimes they are also formed into small round balls. Though jaggery is the usual sweetener material, sugar is used as the base in certain types of chikkis. It is a very popular sweet item in both rural and urban Indian subcontinent (spanning India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka). Some people also add glucose to the chikkis, and “glucose chikkis” are very famous in the Indian subcontinent.
Dry fruits are considered to rich source of nutrients and regarded as delicacies. Generally many of us add dry fruits in special dishes during festivals and special occasions. Dry fruits are very versatile ingredients which can be used in making various savory and sweet dishes. There are several fruits that come under dry fruits category that includes: Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds, Raisins, Pistachio, Date, Peanuts, Macadamia nuts, Hazelnut etc. These fruits are packaged in aesthetic designs either as assorted or as a mix in different proportions and sold as gift pack in the market at good prices. They are enriched with high nutritional element and can be eaten on its own. Dry fruits have special importance during long journeys because of its high nutritive value. Blanched Peanuts are packed peanuts which can be readily used for consumption and Redskin Groundnut Kernels have red colored skin over it.
Other food items which are made up of different type of dry fruits are Dry Fruits Ladoo, Dry Fruits Kheer and used in Christmas fruit cake etc. Cashew nuts and peanuts are also sold as roasted nuts in various flavors like garlic, salt, pepper, chocolate, chilli, sugar and honey. Raisins are natural sweeteners and used in various food items to enhance the taste. These are processed and dehydrated from seedless grapes and the light color of the raisins is preserved with sulphur treatment. Raisins are consumed either raw or mixed in various other preparations, e.g. Cakes, rolls, pies, or in combination with dried fruits
Dry fruits are excellent source of minerals and contain substantial quantities of essential nutrients. They are easy to digest and help keeping us healthy similar to fresh fruits. They have strong medicinal properties. Use of Cashew nuts provides protein and fiber to body. They are rich in mono-unsaturated fat that prove helpful to prevent the heart problems. Cashews are a good source of potassium, B vitamins and folate and contain useful amounts of magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and copper. Almond is considered very useful in both mental and physical development of human body. Unsaturated fats present in the chemical constitution of almonds gift them few good medicinal properties. Good quantities of Iron, copper, phosphorus and vitamin B1 in the Almonds help in the creation of new blood cells, hemoglobin and help in proper functioning of vital organs of the body.
To prepare this mouth watering Indian candy, Dry Fruit Chikki, firstly cut almonds, pista and cashew nuts into slices (slice them vertically or horizontally). Put 2 spoons of oil/ ghee in a pan and roast all sliced nuts (use ghee as it enhances the taste of the nuts) and put them aside.
In the pan put 1/2 table spoon ghee and sugar, mix them and heat it. Add just 2 spoons water (not more than that) to it. Stir briskly till all the sugar melts and turns into brown color. Add cardamom powder and saffron to it and mix well. Add all the nuts in this sugar mix and mix well. Grease a plate with ghee and put the above mixture and press it with puri making stick or a flat ladle. (You have to flatten the mixture evenly in the plate. like pressing a puri). Make cuts with knife. When it becomes dry and hard remove from plate, cut into pieces and store in air tight box.
Tip: You can use jaggery instead of sugar. Traditionally chikki is made with jaggery.
Some Indians feel that jaggery is good luck. They may perform a traditional ceremony of eating a few bits of it prior to engaging in any new enterprise. Given its importance and popularity it’s no surprise that a food that is both sweet and considered healthy could play a part in the commencement of new ventures.
Do try this amazing simple, easy home made and ready to eat Dry Fruit Chikki. Enjoy Cooking!