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Shengdana Chikki

Shengdana chikki is a quick and easy dessert from Maharashtra which is prepared with roasted groundnut, jaggery and ghee. It is one of the most popular snacks liked by many in the Maharashtrian cuisine. Shengdana Chikki is small snack that can be eaten anytime or in the evening to meet your small hunger pangs. Apart from roasted groundnuts there are many other nuts or in combination for making the chikki. You would find this sweet dessert available in most of the railway stations in and round Mumbai and Maharashtra. There are a variety of chikkis which include the dry fruit chikki, til (sesame seeds) chikki, Kaju (cashew nut) chikki or badam chikki etc. A very simple sweet meat yet very delicious to taste, nutty flavor with sweetness of jaggery! If you are unable to get jaggery, you can substitute it with brown sugar. Lohri is an auspicious festival that marks the sun’s entry in the ‘Makar Rashi’ (Northern Hemisphere). Celebrated on the 13th of January, it observes fertility and spark of life. More of a community festival, people on Lohri gather around the bonfires and offer sweets to the flames. The traditional food gives an opportunity to taste and discover the Indian gourmets. Sweets play a more significant role on this day and few of the varieties are gajak, ganne ki kheer, coconut chikki, dry fruit chikki, atta ladoos, shengdana chikki and kurmura ladoos. The shengdana chikki is enriched with groundnuts or moongfali and jaggery. Shengdana in marathi means groundnuts. Chikki is a traditional ready to eat Indian sweet made usually from grounds and jaggery. There are several other varieties of chikki in addition to the most common groundnut chikki having a unique name depending upon the ingredients used like puffed rice chilli, beaten rice or dessicated coconut. This sweet is also extremely popular in Brazil and is known as pe-de-moleque. There are some special variety of chikkis made of cashew, almonds and pistachios. 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 (mainly 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. Most popular chikkis are sourced from India's Lonavala, Matheran and Karjat near Mumbai. You can also get chikki in Rajkot, Ahmedabad which is considered to be the hub of chikki's popularity. For preparing the delicious Shengdana chikki, firstly heat a pan and gently roast (stirring frequently) the peanuts on medium flame till aromatic. Remove from heat and cool. Place a deep heavy bottomed pan on fire (medium heat) and add the jaggery in ½ cup water and allow melting and cooking stirring continuously till it turns dark brown or thick consistency. Test its consistency by putting a drop of the syrup in cold water – it should remain firm then add the roasted groundnuts (do not put the skin). Grease a large flat plate with some ghee and spread the groundnut-jaggery mixture in it. Spread all over the plate and roll flat to 1 cm thickness. Allow cooling and then break into bite size pieces. Once they are cooled they become little hard. Store them air tight container in a dry place. The Shengdana chikkis are ready to be served or eaten. Traditionally preparation of Chikkis is very simple and consists of first preparing the hot jaggery syrup with minimum water and adding nuts to the syrup to coat them and then transferring the mixture to a wooden mould, rolling them to a thickness of about 6-8 mm using a wooden roller, cutting into slabs and packing. Besides the traditional process, the sweet is also produced industrially, by mixing melted sugar with peanuts and then pouring the mix into square moulds, resulting in hard bars of a lighter color. Home made chikkis are pure and hygienic and have a positive impact on health as there are no artificial preservatives used and the flavor is fresh and natural. The Chikkis are available at very economical prices in most of the shops.

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