“Lakshmamma, please go to the “boodha” shop and get me some “chikki”. (The boodha or the buddha with a hard ‘d’ in the middle as we used to call him), was an old bearded gentleman who ran a small grocery store across the maidan from our house. Chikki is peanut brittle to which i was and am – addicted!
Now the shop was barely a 3 minute walk even for short 7-year old legs but i was usually too immersed in some book to be bothered with going to the shop myself. Enter faithful old servitor – Lakshmamma – who used to go to the corner store half a dozen times a day without a grumble. The chikki would be finished in half an hour but i’d have started on another Enid Blyton by then and poor Lakshmamma would oblige yet again with her two-teeth missing grin!
That “buddha” – i swear – became a rich man on the amount of chikki i used to put away! Many years later – we had moved away from there when i was about fourteen or so – the old man and his son – the young ‘ buddha’ now – attended my wedding – my ever-inclusive mom and dad having decided that everyone who had ever known me from childhood should come and bless me – resulting in a wedding with over 3000 guests – but that’s another story!
Around this time – the earlier time, i mean, parents decided that it was time we learnt about money and the exotic thing called “pocket money” entered our lives! My first pocket money was 3 bucks a month, Arvind, my older brother’s was 4 and Anand, by virtue of age – 5 glorious bucks! Now, no one we knew had pocket money so the whole thing was a source of great excitement and curiosity – with as much planning going into the spending of it as deciding on India’s annual budget – come to think of it – maybe more planning!
After MUCH planning, a bunch of ten of us went off to the “buddha” shop, bought 300 (yes, three hundred at one paisa each!) of those little kidney shaped acid drops (nothing to do with drugs – these are just boiled confectionery in brilliant yellow and virulent orange and green!) – the poor old buddha had to sit and count these out for us from the big glass bottle in which they were displayed, scrupulously divided by ten and ate 30 each. We were gloriously sick the next day but felt it was completely worth it! Of course, lessons in what pocket money was meant for blah, blah followed but hey, we’d had our day in the sun!
Chikki still remains much loved – and Arch, my older daughter – is just as addicted as i am!
- Peanuts – 1 cup
- Jaggery – 3/4 of a cup – grated.
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Dried ginger – 1 large pinch (optional)
- Salt – 1 pinch (optional but i like the wee bit of contrast – like salted caramel)
- Ghee – to grease a plate
Grease the underside of a steel plate or any large flat plate with no walls and also a rolling pin. Roast the peanuts till crunchy and let cool. Lots of people like to remove the pink skin of the peanuts but i like the taste and generally leave it in. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the ghee and add the jaggery and a couple of tablespoons of water. Heat till jaggery melts and continue to cook till it boils and thickens till the syrup reaches a soft ball stage. Drop a few drops into a bowl of water – the syrup should form a ball between your fingers. This takes about 8-10 minutes. Add the roasted peanuts, salt and dried ginger powder. Mix well. Continue to mix for 2-3 minutes. Drop it on to the plate and roll out with the rolling pin. Let cool for a few minutes and then draw lines to cut it into pieces. Let cool completely and store or eat! It IS Deepavali after all so you can be sick after from overeatng??!!