Gajak or chikki is a quintessential winter dessert in several parts of India but have you tried any fusion recipes yet?
Come winters, my grandmother starts arranging her stock of chikki in the small kitchen cabinet hidden beneath the counter top. As soon as one bunch finishes, she starts stomping her feet in the entire house, looking for a sweet substitute after each meal. That’s how essential chikki is to her in winters. Not just a classic winter dessert, the til and gud combination is a festive treat too. With Makar Sankranti round the corner, people have been hogging the markets to get their share of the two to make ladoos, halwa and more at home. This huge harvest festival is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show across the country and both sesame and jaggery hold great importance in rejoicing these festivities.
In fact, a dig into the past tells us that the chikki actually finds mention in Panini’s Sanskrit grammar too. A confection made from jaggery and sesame was highlighted in Anthropology of Sweetmeats by Prof. Anil Kishore Sinha and well, we are relishing the taste of it even today. Did you know that chikki was actually invented during the construction of a railway line? It comes to us as no surprise since all good things are usually created either by accident or under unusual circumstances.
The construction workers, who were working day in, day out for laying down the Mumbai-Pune railway line about 150 years ago, were in dire need of something to up their energy levels. The son of Bhivraj Aggrawal came up with the idea of this bite-sized snack bar that was quick and cheap as well as a filling treat for the workers. From that day onwards, Magan Lal Chikki wala became the pioneer of chikki in India, giving us a delectable sweetmeat.
Today, if you stop by at a sweet shop and ask for chikki, the owner would read out a list of names to choose from. From peanut to almonds and mixed nuts and dry fruits, there are options galore. If you’re up for a chikki treat this season, you must try these fusion chikkis for a lip-smacking winter season.
1. Cranberries And Cornflakes Chikki
While jaggery remains the sweetening factor in this chikki, the main ingredients that are bound together with the sticky gud are cornflakes. An item that is usually found in breakfast bowls can actually be used to make a crispy and crunchy chikki. Add to that some fruity cranberries which not only lend a pop of colour but also make it taste very different. Puffed rice is also used in this combination to give the chikki a unique crunch.
2. Rose-Flavoured Chikki
The essence of rose water in anything adds an aromatic touch and a natural sweetness to it. While the rose water is great for your eyes and skin, it can be a great element for your desserts too. The gud and til (sesame and jaggery combination is infused with the rose water and some chopped dry fruits are also added for the crunchy texture.
3. Rajgira Chikki Fruity Shrinkhand
As they say, “Ek se bhale do”, so we’ve combined the goodness of two yummy desserts in one. Shrikhand, for the unversed, is a classic Gujarati sweet made from strained curd and is all things creamy. On the other hand, chikki is a sweet, dry and sticky dessert. This chikki is made from Rajgira seeds which is a healthy alternative and paired with a shrikhand that is flavoured with fruits.
4. Bhujia Chikki
Bhujia is traditionally a savoury snack. Fine pieces of sev spruced up with spices gives a crunchy tea-time Indian snack. How about we make chikki with bhujia? Well, it is possible. The bhujia is combined woth fennel seeds and melon seeds and stuck to each other with jaggery to form this sweet and savoury brittle.
5. M & M Chikki
This yummy gems-like colourful chocolates bites can be a great ingredient for making an Indo-Western chikki. The M & Ms are combined with sugar and stuck together on the bar of sweet jaggery to give this interesting chikki variety.
6. Chocolate Chikki
White and dark chocolate are used in making this decadent chikki flavour. Bars of white chocolate are drizzled with tempered dark chocolate and sprinkled with walnuts, pistachios and cashews.