|Fully caramelised chikki is toffee-like with a delicious roast nut flavour; these are cashews|
|This is what you get if you stop after mixing the nuts in; tastes more sugary and less nutty, without the toffee-like flavour|
It seems every continent has its version of a sweet combining nuts or seeds and sugar or honey; they just seem to go together really well! In India and Pakistan, chikki is traditionally made from peanuts and jaggery (gour). In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar it's called layyiya patti, and there are different names according to what nuts, seeds or coconut are in it. In Brazil, peanut and rapadura (jaggery) candy is known as pe-de-moleque (meaning "cobblestones"). The French have praline, the Americans and British peanut brittle, and North African, Arabic and Mediterranean countries make their own versions with almonds or sesame seeds. Caramelised nuts are often found as street food the world over, and not without good reason: there is protein and energy in the nuts and if you use jaggery, gour or rapadura then there will be minerals as well as energy in the sugar too- all very sustaining, and a healthy fuel for a busy day. Chikki is good if you have to work on ekadasi days (when we fast from grains and beans) as it will keep you going for hours.
- Lightly toast the nuts at 200C on a baking tray until just starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, melt the gour in a sturdy pan deeper than it is wide (stainless steel is ideal, enamel is not). It should become a bubbling, thick liquid. Keep stirring it, and don't use too high a heat or it may burn. You can tell if it's starting to burn as dark flecks will appear in it and it will start to smell horrible:/
- Stir your nuts/ seeds in next. If you stop here you get a paler, more sugary-tasting confection, but if you want the real deal, then carry on gently heating and stirring the mixture, and then...
- ....something quite magical happens: the chikki will darken, and as the oil starts to come out from the nuts or seeds it will appear more liquid at first. Stir constantly to prevent sticking and burning for about 5 minutes.
- Spread out on a sheet of foil to cool and set. Chikki sets very fast, so make sure it's in the shape you want as soon as possible.
- Break into pieces or cut into squares.