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Chikki is an Indian sweet snack that originated in the area of Maharashtra. It is a combination of peanuts, butter or ghee, and a type of sugar called jaggery. The snack is cut into small squares that can be quickly eaten. The same dish made in almost the same way also is popular in Brazil, where it is called pe-de-moleque. Variations on the original recipe exist, including the addition of fruits or the substitution of another type of nuts.
The binding ingredient in chikki is jaggery. This is a type of sugar that is extracted from sugar cane and palm trees. The sugar is distinct because it contains molasses and is largely unrefined. It bears a resemblance to brown sugar and is equal in its density and stickiness. Some Asian and Indian grocery stores sell a special type of jaggery designed specifically to be used to make chikki.
The process of making chikki is fairly simple. It involves creating syrup out of the jaggery by mixing it with water and heating it, then adding the ghee or butter. The nuts are skinned, if necessary, and added to the syrup to be coated. The entire mixture is poured onto a surface, where it is rolled out into a sheet and cut into squares or diamond shapes. Once it dried, the chikki is ready to eat.
In Brazil, the method is similar, though not identical. The peanuts that are used in pe-de-moleque are roasted before being added to the syrup. While jaggery syrup can be used to coat the nuts in pe-de-moleque, it also is common to use molasses or brown sugar in the syrup.
Variations of chikki exist. Instead of rolling the nuts out into a sheet, one variation calls for them to be dropped like cookies or small spheres onto a surface and allowed to dry into organic, uneven shapes. The type of nuts that are used also can be changed entirely or the traditional peanuts can be joined by another variety. Some popular options are cashews, walnuts and almonds. Other variations call for dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots, to be diced into small pieces and added to the peanuts.
More exotic variations include the addition of certain spices or other flavorings. Some versions of chikki have saffron added. Others include cardamom or coriander. Instead of nuts, one recipe calls for the use of popcorn. Another variation on chikki involves using a mix of black and white sesame seeds in place of the peanuts.
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