Chikki is a very common and most loved snack consumed by each and every household in India. It is a hard crack made of peanuts / ricepuff / til (sesame seeds) / Rajgeera or anything that one can think of, and jaggery / sugar.
We all Know how is it made, and like my other articles, I will not mention the recipe here since its available all over the internet. What I will do is give you the basics and give you the science behind each step so that you can never go wrong with making chikki.
Like I always emphasize on, cooking right is a science. If you know it, you are a Masterchef!
So let’s get started.
I’ve already told you the ingredients of making chikki. Lets jump on to the science and Know – How of making chikki.
1. Caramelization of sugar: The first step we take in making a chikki is to caramelize the sugar or jaggery.
However, using jaggery i sbetter than sugar since it contains micronutrients and added benefits which i shall enlist in the next article. Right now it is important to know that sugar is 100% sucrose while jaggery is only 65-85% sucrose. So the caramelization process is the same for both.
Now what is Caramelization?
Caramelizaton is the non – enzyatic browning that takes place in sugars which gives the characteristic brown color and a nutty flavour to the dishes. Also, this process occurs in the absence of a protein source.
When subjected to heat with or without water, a series of reaction occur which results in the formation of caramel.
a) The Initial stage where anhydrous sugar (sugar without the presence of water) is formed. The glucose (the unit of sucrose) gets converted to either glucosan or levo – glucosan.
b) The second stage where the increasing time of heating at above 160 degrees Celsius causes the formation of a series of products.
– at 35mins of heating, the sugars lose 4.5% of its weight (due to reduced moisture / water content) and a compound called isosaccharosan is formed.
– with further heating, (% of the weight is lost and a compound called caramelan is formed.
– later, 14% moisture is lost and a compound called caramelen is formed.
– finally, an insoluble compound called caramelin is formed which is responsible for the Caramel – like flavour, odour, taste, colour and appearance.
So, it is very important to cook the mixture till this compound is formed so that you can be proud of your own chikki and so that the chikki has that nutty flavour.
2. Amorphous Sweet: It is important to note that chikki is a kind of an amorphous confectionary which means that that there are no crystals in its structure. The nuts, ricepuff, etc., act as interfering substances in the formation of the crystalline pattern. hence they look glassy and feel smooth.
3. Hard Crack: When the sugar / jaggery syrup is cooking, its consistency is checked in a bowl of cold water. When a drop of the above syrup is added, it should form a ball and remain hard. it should break with a cracking sound. This means that the perfect consistency for the chikki has been achieved, which when cooled will be a perfect crunch. If the heat is turned off before this stage is reached, the chikki will become sticky and chewy. and if over – cooked, it will give a chikki which is too hard and difficult to chew.
This texture is basically due to the caramelin formed as a result of caramelization and also because the sugar syrup has become absolutely concentrated. The is no moisture causing the softness.
4. Time Factor: It is very important to spread / roll into balls, the chikki immediately after it is out of the pan. At least as soon as your hands can bear the temperature of the mixture. Simply because once the mixture cools it will become hard and then it will be unable to mould it. That can be inferred from the cold water test as performed above. It exactly tells you the texture of the chikki when cooled.
So, thats all about chikki. All the best for your experiments with it. And do write in for any queries or further inputs. And keep reading for the benefits of using jaggery over sugar.
Knowledge is never bad! It is always a boon!