The famously loved peanut chikki. It may look like a peanut brittle, but it is in fact not at all brittle. For one the ratio of the nuts to the jaggery is more and it is not hard like the brittles usually are. And secondly, the chikki is made with minimally processed sugarcane juice called the jaggery
I love the crisp yet chewier version called the chikki. There are quite a few places in India that are known to make the best tasting peanut and sesame chikki. Lonavla is considered the most famous one with the best tasting chikkis. With the latest trends landing into those otherwise very traditional artisanal domains of chikki making, we now see chikkis made of cashews, quinoa, pistachios and what not!
I am a little traditional as far as chikki is concerned. I love the two basic ones, that grandma used to handout as a treat in winters. The ones made from real “desi” Jaggery with either toasted sesame or peanuts.
The term “desi” can mean a variety of things – from something from the “des” ( native place) , or someone from India is a desi, or something that is unadulterated and probably organic is also desi. The unadulterated and organic does not apply when we refer to “desi” while talking about humans even though humans are made of organic matter after all.
So back to the jaggery of the desi kind. That is the only kind that will help you make a delectable chikki. Not the chemically processed and preserved mounds of Jaggery. So talk to your grocer and ask him/her to reveal the real jaggery. Chances are they will have a few boxes of it somewhere. The label should read “Desi Gur” or something to that effect. Made from the sap or the juice of the sugarcane or the date palm, the “gur” or jaggery is full of nutrients that the ultra processed sugar just can not provide. My friend Sangeeta has some more details on the health benefits of jaggery in this post on Jaggery Pancakes.
If you are unable to find Jaggery, chances are you know it by some other names like the Panela, Piloncillo, Raspadura or Rapadura. The Brazilian Pé-de-moleque is made by mixing roasted peanuts with melted rapadura. The mixture is then stirred over heat until it mixes well and begins to crystalize. And then allowed to cool down after spreading it out on a metal plate or stone surface. Once the mixture cool, the Pe de Moleque is broken into small pieces. The whole process is similar to making the Peanut chikki in India.
Peanut or sesame chikki is traditionally eaten on the day of Makar Sankranti that falls on January 14th every year (with some exceptions). Makar Sankranti marks the transition into the warmer days and is considered a harvest festival in India.
So this Sankranti, I wanted to make the peanut chikki at home that the, finicky and snobbish about all things sweet, husband would like. So as usual, the best person to teach me about what he likes is of course his mom. So after a frantic phone call from my side, much calming words from mother in law’s side, many happy chuckles from the father in law ( he is always pleased when I try and make traditional sweets) I set to work. Turns out I really did not need to worry. Because the only important step in the whole process was the right kind of jaggery – and that I had. I also made the process quicker by using the microwave to toast the peanuts. Easy Peasy!
Indian Peanut Chikki or The Brazilian Pé-de-moleque
- 250 gms peanuts roasted and and outer husk removed
- 175 gms Jaggery pure Jaggery
- 2 tsp ghee
- 1/4 c water
- 100 gms sesame toasted
- 100 gms jaggery
- 1 tsp ghee
- 2 Tbs water
- Take a 6 in baking tin or a plate and line it with a parchment. Coat the parchment paper with some ghee or oil
- Take a flat bottomed bowl and coat the base with ghee or oil. This will be used to press the chikki down when its hot.
- Begin by heating the ghee in a pan on low medium heat. Add in the jaggery. Stir and let it melt. When it melts completely and is heated through, it will start to bubble on the sides. Let it keep cooking for about a minute, then add in the water.
- Mix and let it come to a boil. Allow the water to evaporate completely and the jaggery to thicken again and get a darker hue. Add in the peanuts, in small batches and stir to mix and coat.
- Pour on the parchment paper greased with ghee, then tap it down with the base of a bowl that has been coated with ghee as well. The firmer you press the better your chiki will hold.
- Allow to cool and then cut.
- Same process as peanut chikki.
Don't have roasted and husked peanuts?
- If you have raw shelled peanuts, you may quickly roast them in the microwave for about 2 minutes (for 250gms)
- and then stir. Put then in for another 2 minute in microwave. Repeat by one minute increments until you see some of the peanuts cracking in the middle. At this point let them cool.
- Then put them in a kitchen towel and massage them from outside the towel to remove the skin. Alternately, tie into the towel and beat the bundle on the kitchen counter. When you are done the peanuts will be separated from the skin and you will have perfect halves.
How to toast the sesame seeds?
- Heat up a non stick pan and tip the sesame in. Gently stir and toast the sesame seeds on medium heat. As soon as the sesame seeds begin to change color, turn off heat, remove from pan and allow to cool on a baking sheet.