Healthy Homemade Chikki / Brittle – three types
Amidst the freezing cold weather and dense fog outside, we Punjabis get together for a harvest festival called Lohri. It falls on 12th or 13th of January, when the sun changes its course. It is celebrated with different names in different parts of India. In Punjab a sacred fire is lit and prayers are offered to thank God for the generosity and blessings. Apart from that everyone enjoy delicious winter dinner of makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, exchange greetings, sing popular folk songs and dance till late at night. Here in Canada, our winters don’t always lend us to a Lohri-friendly atmosphere but we do gather in temples for a bonfire and later at some friend’s house for singing, dancing and merry making.
Special sugarcane desserts,pinnis and chikkis are prepared in every home. Here, I have you three chikki recipes today.
Chikki also called gachak, is a brittle like sweet made from jaggery and comes in many varieties, such as peanuts, sesame, puffed rice, amaranth, cashews and coconut. Each chikki is named depending upon the ingredients used. The most popular is the sesame and peanut chikki. It has no artificial flavors, 100% natural and perfect for gift giving.
If you are not familiar with jaggery, it is unrefined sugar used in seasonal Indian sweets. It is much healthier than regular refined sugar and is very addictive at the same time. Let me add, that jaggery is known for it’s good iron, magnesium and potassium content, and combined with sesame seeds and peanuts it is a nutritional powerhouse and a treat for taste buds as well.
If you can’t get hold of sugarcane jaggery, where you live then I have coconut palm sugar recipe for you. It is nutrient rich low-glycemic crystalline sweetener, completely natural and unrefined like sugarcane jaggery. It is not too sweet, but gives a great flavor. I combined it with maple syrup but you can make it without it.
Preparing a classic chikki is very simple and consists of first making hot jaggery syrup with a minimum of water (just to help melting easier), adding nuts or seeds to the syrup and then transferring the mixture to a greased wooden board, rolling them to a thickness of 6-8mm, till it sets and became a bit hard. It is then cut into squares, rectangles or diamond shapes. The way these chikkis are made keeps them good-to-eat for months.
A very happy Lohri and Makar Sankranti to all Indian folks!!!
Healthy and unrefined sugar treats
- 300 g (2 cups) gur / sugarcane jaggery grated or sliced
- 300g roasted peanuts (skin removed)
- few pieces of toasted coconut (optional)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried ginger powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 300 g white sesame
- 300 g gur / sugarcane jaggery
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- few rose petals (optional)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup coarsely ground sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (mix it with ground sesame seeds)
- 1 tbsp shredded coconut or pumpkin seeds
- Grease a cutting board or use silpat on it. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add water and grated/sliced jaggery.
- Mix ginger powder (if using) with the roasted peanuts and set aside.
- Melt it and once it begins to bubble, lower the heat and fit a candy thermometer. Keep cooking and stirring the jaggery all along until it reaches 270°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, then you want to have a cold glass of water nearby and drop a bit of the mixture into it every few minutes until it forms a stiff ball in the water.This will confirm that it is hot enough.
- When it reaches this stage, turn off the heat, and immediately add the peanuts.
- Mix well so the peanuts are coated with the syrup.
- Pour the entire mixture onto the greased cutting board or silpat. Using a greased rolling pin or spatula spread out the mixture to a desired thickness, sprinkle toasted coconut pieces(if using). Press with rolling pin or spatula.
- Allow the chikki to cool and then break in pieces.
- Same process as peanut chikki
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the coconut sugar, oil, maple syrup and water.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat and insert a candy thermometer.
- Cook stirring once in a while. When it reaches 280°F - 290°F or until the mixture turns stiff and sticky, remove the candy thermometer, turn off the heat.
- Add sesame seeds, ground sesame seeds. Stir quickly to combine.
- Spread the brittle out onto a prepared baking sheet or board, to about ¼ inch thick. Spread quickly because this brittle cools quickly.
- Sprinkle shredded coconut/pumpkin seeds, press with spatula.
- Mark the brittle with a knife or cookie cutter to break them easily later.
To toast sesame, heat up a pan and tip in the sesame seeds. Stir and toast the seeds on medium heat. As soon as the sesame seeds crackle and begin to change color, turn off heat, remove from pan and allow to cool.
To roast and husk peanuts, check here