Sunday, September 25, 2005

C is for Chivda and Chavli Amti

This article is first of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai.) Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra.) Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to those outside the state. It's time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my home state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to showcase the cuisine that I grew up on.

C is for Chivda and Chavli Amti 

We continue our journey with the letter C...another letter that has great recipes associated with it. The most important C in Marathi food in my opinion is the Chapati...a humble flatbread made with whole wheat flour. Clare over at Eat Stuff impressed me very much with her delicious-looking chapatis recently. She made them using her roti-maker. Rolling out chapatis manually is a skill that needs practice, something I am still working on! 

 C also stands for chutney. Deccanheffalump over at the Cooks Cottage recently wrote a beautiful and informative post about the various chutneys that are invariably part of the Marathi meal. Deccanheffalump has to be credited with putting Marathi food on the international foodie map with her consistently beautiful blog set in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. She called chutneys the "pesto of the East", how apt! 

Another of my favorite "C"s is the tropical fruit Chikoo. A small brown nondescript fruit, it opens up to reveal a sweet creamy interior reminiscent of butterscotch. I have made chikoo ice cream before. Indian stores often sell frozen chikoo, perfect for making smoothies. 

C stands for a bunch of crispy crunchy snacks: Chakli, Chirote, Chivda, as so many of you pointed out. We often forget that packaged snacks are a relatively recent invention, and that in years past, cooks made a stash of snacks to be eaten over several days. In Indian homes, small dishes of snacks are often enjoyed at tea-time. One hallmark of Indian families is their hospitality, a trait that is common to homes across the nation, no matter what their economic status. As soon as you enter an Indian home, you will be seated and offered something to eat and drink. These home-made snacks often come in handy when unexpected guests drop in. 

All of these snacks are traditionally made at Diwali, the festival of lights, although I love them any old day of the year. Chakli is made with a spicy batter formed into swirls using a mold and deep-fried. I don't own a Chakli mold so thats out of the question. Chirote are an absolutely amazing sweet snack. Home-made puff pastry is rolled delicately into little nest-shapes, fried and sprinkled with fine sugar. Waaay out of my league! The third snack, Chivda luckily is very easy to make. The base is poha, or parboiled pounded rice. It is available in Indian stores in two forms, a thick variety that is soaked in water and used to make a savoury dish, and the thin kind is made into the dry snacky chivda. It is wonderful to have a jar of Chivda sitting around...a handful is enough to spare you hunger pangs in the evening while you are getting dinner ready. A warning: this stuff is addictive! It's almost like Trail Mix...a potpourri of flavors with a satisfying crunch, and the nuts and whole grain make it a pretty healthy snacking option. 



2 cups thin poha 
2 tbsp oil 
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp red chilli powder 
1/4 cup peanuts 
1/4 cup raisins 
1 tsp salt 
2 tsp sugar 

1. Heat oil in a kadai/wok/pan. Pop the mustard seeds, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, peanuts and raisins. Fry till the peanuts and raisins are golden. 
2. Add salt, sugar, turmeric and chilli powder and stir for a few seconds. 
3. Add the poha and stir fry on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes till poha is coated with all spices and lightly toasted. 
 4. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. 

 For a delicious variation, add 2-3 garlic cloves to the stir fried spices. For another variation, use fresh green chillies instead of red chilli powder. This chivda is addictive and delicious by itself, but you can add come minced onion, minced cilantro and lemon juice to it to make instant "bhel" for an afternoon snack.

Another "C" is the often-underused Chavli or the black-eyed pea. What's not to love...this bean is pretty , tasty, nutritious! In Marathi homes, it is used to make a tasty curry which is served as a main dish with rice. Today I will share a recipe that I got from an authentic Marathi cookbook. It demonstrates the concept of "Vaatan" or grinding, in which spices are fried together and ground along with the curry bases of onion and coconut, to make a fragrant paste that gives the curry its heady aroma. The "vaatan" method is a bit more time-consuming that plain stir-frying but so worth it for a great weekend meal! 


  Chavli Curry  
(adapted from the Marathi cookbook "Lajawab Curries" by Sudha Maydev) 
Serves 4 

1 cup Whole Black-eyed Peas (Chavli), soaked overnight and boiled till tender 
1/2 cup onion, sliced 
1/2 cup tomato puree/1 tomato, chopped fine 
1 tsp curry powder of your choice (garam masala/sambar masala etc) 
1 tsp sugar salt to taste 

For tadka
1 tbsp oil 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds 
4-5 curry leaves 
1/8 tsp asafoetida 
1/2 tsp turmeric 

For masala paste 
1 tbsp oil 
1 tsp chana dal 
1 tsp urad dal 
1 tsp coriander seeds 
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds 
3-4 red chillies 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1 onion, chopped 
3 tbsp grated unsweetened coconut 

1. Make masala paste by frying all the ingredients in the oil till lightly toasted and then grind fine. 
2. Make the tadka by heating oil, then adding the rest of the ingredients and frying for a minute or two. Add the sliced onion and fry till well browned. 
3. Add tomato, salt, sugar, curry powder and masala paste and fry well. 
4. Add the boiled chavli, bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then serve hot garnished with cilantro. 

That does it for C. Next week we journey on to the letter "D". Any suggestions for this one?


  1. Nupur, those both look so good! I was wondering - what do you use to grind the masala paste and also what do you use to grind spices? I've tried a couple of different things for the spices with mixed success, and am curious what you do.

  2. Hi Cathy, Thanks for stopping by! I grind dry spice mixtures in a Braun coffee works really well I find. For wet mixtures such as in the recipe above, I use the Braun Multiquick Chopper attachment (this is part of the stick blender set). I find that this is does the job, but probably not as fine a paste as I would like. I find that the amount of water added makes a big difference in whether the paste is formed properly or not. Actually Indian brands of processors (called "mixies") are far more heavy-duty and wonderful for making pastes than anything I have seen in American stores. I need to get one the next time I go to India!

  3. hey nupur,
    Before you haul a big grinder on a long flight, try the cuisinart grinder. U might like it. I used it to grind batter for dosai and I was satisfied with the results.
    and the two dishes look really good. Might try chawli as I dont have access to the poha.

  4. Hi Nupur!
    I could not have made Chapatis at all with out your help!!!

    I think your curry looks perfect for tonights dinner! yay!!!!

    Can't wait for D now!

  5. I'd say D for Dhokla, but I know that's Gujarati :) Cant wait to see what yummy recipe D brings...

    The masala paste ingredients seem really different from other dals - cant wait to try this out. In fact, I'm not gonna wait. Chavli curry tonight!

  6. Hi Nupur- Both the Cs look delicious. I did not have any interesting chavli recipe but you have solved my problem. Is your next recipe Doodh ki kheer or something with doodhi???

  7. Yum, I love chivda! And black-eyed peas (fresh ones are in season now, so you've inspired my to buy some and shell them soon).

    D? Dhokla, doodhi (did I spell that right?), dahi, and lots of dal, of course.

  8. D is for daNyacha laadu.
    D is for DaLimbichi UsaaL. (vaal)

  9. I used to visit your blog some months back but then somehow stopped and lost the link. So now that I managed to find you again, I am adding you to my blogroll. Just to let you know.

  10. hi. c recipes were great. now for d...............doodhi halwa, dangrachya chaktya, dalimbya bhat or usal, dalimbachi koshimbir,dahivada,danyachi amti, dalvade.........all the,yoma.

  11. Hi Bilbo, yes the Cuisinart is also on my list of possibilities. I agree that great dosa batter is the ultimate test of a grinder :)

    Hi Clare, Thanks :)

    Hi Thodarumm, Thanks for your input...a good mixie can really make life simpler right ? I need to invest in one!

    Hi Shammi, yummm...dhokla. But yes it is gujarati...I have to save it for a different series.

    Hi Mika, its true, there are not many Chavli recipes out there...pity, because its so tasty! Doodhi is a great idea!

    Hi Brett, fresh black-eyed peas!! You are so lucky, I have never seen those ever. Dahi and dal are great ideas!

    Hi Anya, both ideas are great! I love vaal...and thanks for adding me to the blogroll!

    Hi yoma, great ideas as usual! I have to see what to make...

  12. Wow, chikoo sounds like a really interesting fruit-it's too much to hope I could find it around here, though. I'm adding that Chivda to my list of Indian recipes to try--thanks! I'm also tagging you for the 23/5 meme.


  13. will try chivda one of these days. will have to look for thin poha here in chennai. I am sure it will be around somewhere...

    btw did u try the andhra version of the stuffed baingan?

  14. Hi Amy,
    yes fresh chikoo is all but impossible to find!

    Hi B-imp, no, my attempt at andhra baingan has to wait for a trip to the indian grocery store...which happens only once in 6 weeks or so...coz u don't get baby baingans in the regular stores.
    I am sure thin poha will not be hard to find in chennai!

  15. To buy Preethi Mixie Online go to
    Two year ago, I bought one and I sincerely appreciate the product.
    Great for grinding idli, dosa, masala and chutney. Dry grinding is so quick, my homemade spice dry masalas, adds a kick to my sambar, Rasam ... recipes.
    You got to buy a Preethi heavy duty mixie to mark the difference !!

  16. Oops - I just bought the thick poha! I happened to run across it in my regular grocery store and thought I'd get some to make your Chivda. Maybe you could talk more about that savory dish sometime?? :)

  17. Hi Nupur,
    Came here through Indira's and i had a really nice time browsing over your blog.
    Nice work and very informative.

  18. OMG am so glad i found yr blog. my boyfriend is marathi, i'm from hyderabad, and though he enjoys all the mughlai stuff, now i can FINALLY share some good marathi food with him.
    Thanks, Nupur, for adding more variety to my kitchen in a special way, and more joy to my life!

  19. Iam new to food blogging and love your blog.I have a frozen black eyed peas packet lying around in my freezer for a long time and now I found a very good receipe to use that.Can I use that instead of the dry ones ?

  20. hi! Nupur,
    i lived all my life in mumbai and got here to the US 6 months ago to study. i cook for my own, but get really bored sometimes. i was looking online to see what they call black eyed peas in india [i forgot] and found your blog. i tried looked so good on the picture...and oh! my god! i just made something that was out of the world!!! thanks so much, nupur. that was deliciously yummilistic!

  21. Nupur ... you are great ... love your blog .... my mom is visiting and she got some chivda ... but it is different from one in the picture ... and I brought it to work.. my boss was interested in knowing what it is made up of ... I told him it is kind of like trail mix ... lol ... anyway .. keep up the great work!

  22. Hi Nupur,

    Tried out the Chavli curry last night and it was a huge hit! By far the most delicious black-eyed beans dish I've ever prepared.

    My boyfriend said it reminded him of his childhood days and couldn't stop eating it. And I'm already craving the leftovers for lunch. :)

    Thanks so much for another great recipe. Everything I've tried from your site has been an instant success.


  23. Nupur, Manasi sent me a surprise ingredient as part of Arusuvai Friendship Chain and She had sent your masala paste for Chavli curry. I have linked to this post in my blog. Thanks Nupur for sharing the wonderful recipe.

  24. Hi nupur,
    I made chavli amti the other day.. Thank you for a great recipe!

  25. That chawli curry looks delicious! Just saw it at Asha's blog.
    And thanks for putting together a lovely package for Bri! I will not be bidding for it though, but have chipped in at her site. Your knit creations are beautiful!

  26. Hey Nupur, Your recipes are gr88 and so is ur way of introducing them. I have also started a blog recently, do visit sometime.

  27. Hi,
    Your Amti sounds delicious except I don't have those beans today and I am calling people over for dinner tonight and would love to make it. Can I substitute that for something else? Like black beans or some vegetable?
    Thank you so much!!

  28. Hi Nupur, This Chavli is one of ur many gems on this site...have tried it many times. In the recipe u mention to add either Curry powder or GM...What do u add ? CP Or GM ? becoz each gives different tastes. Also do u have ur CP recipe here ? Thx

  29. Hi,

    I've been a silent admirer of you Blog for sometime now. I stumbled onto it one hot July day in a google-ing haze and i Loved your A-Z series. Ive tried some of your easier recipes but decided to brave the vatan and go for the chavli curry only today. Im happy i did, it is delicious!! I cant wait to try it out again... tell me apart from chavli, what else can it be used with? I was thinking egg curry?? Let me know!

  30. Hi Nupur, I tried the amti and it was delicious. I also dictated this recipe over phone to my mom (she has yet to learn to operate computer :( ) and she too loved it. Thanks ton Nupur. -- Best Wishes, Rehana

  31. Nupur,

    I made this today, and it was absolutely delicious! Thanks for posting.

    - Anu

  32. अरविंद प्रधानFebruary 15, 2014 9:55 AM

    उत्तम कृती पण आम्हाला मिरच्या जरा जास्त वाटल्या. एक म्हणजे डोक्यावरन पाणी. तीन जरा जास्त वाटतात. खोबर पण जरा कमी केल.


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