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Poha is de-husked rice which is beaten into flat flakes. It's extremely light and forms an integral part of the Indian diet. Even better, poha easy to cook with and quick to rustle up—most homes keep a ready stock of it, in case of surprise guests.
During Diwali, the Indian festival of light, it makes its appearance on the festive table as Poha Chivda. 'Chivda' refers to a crunchy, usually savory snack. There are plenty of variations and endless flavor combinations in this type of dish, which can be eaten on its own or with a meal. Made with poha, it's usually served to neighbors, friends, and relatives, alongside a host of other traditional sweets and savories.
Since Diwali was celebrated a few weeks ago, I'm left with quite a few interesting snacks and ingredients, poha chivda being one that I can easily tuck into throughout the year. I love the salty, sweet, and fragrant spicy notes that this snack hits.
This recipe calls for a bit of oil that you might think is too much, but it works to preserve the mixture and helps infuse the diverse seasonings into every element of the dish. And besides, it'll all be drained off later. It's very easy to prepare and has a shelf life of about two months (not that it will last that long). And makes for a wonderful guilt-free(ish) nibble whenever hunger strikes.
About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.