Sweet Tooth Corner of Chikki

Indian Style
You might smack wet your lips when hearing the word ‘Chikki’. Let alone the chimera of hills, dams and nature bounties, Chikki compels you to recall sugar-coated groundnuts that do wonder to your taste buds. A trip to Lonavala is never complete without stuffing bags with few kilos of Chikki — the signature dish of Lonavala. Chomping a bite of Chikki just bought from some seller is not all about the confection. Chikki, the roasted groundnut confection, is available in 30 makes and combo of different recipes across the length and breadth of Lonavala.

As a new entrant to Lonavala shopping for Chikki needs a good knowledge of the right places to buy from, a sound acquaintance of its varieties, brands, and quality. Giving in to the taste and tact of Chikki sellers is easy than buying the right quality from the right place. A trend among visitors is to get guided by billboards and banner hanging overhead, but these are not a big help rather bombardment of advertisements for the product.

Chikki ingredients and varieties
Before you barge in some shop to lay hands on the emblematic concoction of Lonavala make sure you know all about the dish. Chikki is prepared with jaggery, sugar syrup, groundnuts and cashews (optional). However, this is a basic preparatory method and over the years there developed several varieties cooked with many more ingredients and in several tastes. Unlike jams and jellies tasting Chikki before buying is not so common here, so one will have to depend upon the word of mouth or trusted old shops known to be the masters in the trade. Or, alternatively, make a choice out of preferences suchlike chana, Kesar, Pista, Badam, coconut, rajgira, kurmura, til (linseed), dry fruits and combination of all these. Ginger, honey, mint and peanut crushes are some scrummy innovations that add to the existing choice. Scouting Lonavala further and you are bound you come across fruity avatar of Chikki available in the all-new taste of strawberry, mango, and chocolate. An even newer version for health freaks is the sugar-free Chikkies which are low in calorie count and prepared to serve the non-sugar customers.

Lonavala has a whole industry that specializes in Chikki but there are specific places where you can get to taste the real Chikki in its purest form. A range of 30-40 brands makes the choice difficult but few trusted quality and tastes that can be bulk-shopped are Maganlal, National and A-1. Well, these do not set rule-of-thumb in the buying business and there are many other makers that promise you even better flavor. Some of the brands that have a history of freshness and taste can be rightly purchased from National, Maganlal, Rupam, Navratna, Mahavir, Raval, Super, Vaishali, Mangal, Panchratna, Coopers, National Chikki Mart.

Chikki that taste...... crisp and not soft is said to better quality. Chikki buffs ask you to mandatorily perform a color check for the chikki; a light brown suggests moderate use of jaggery and a darker tinge is a compromise with taste. Similarly, poor or inexpensive quality misses out dry fruit coatings or layered cake that adds to the taste of concoctions. Beware of the old stuff that smells stale and impure. The minimum price bids at Rs 80 per kg to Rs 200. Bargaining is not that big an option but taste is, so discounts are available just on bulk purchases!

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