My trip to Lonavala, near Pune would not have been complete and fulfilling without a visit to a Chikki factory or without making bulk purchase of chikkis for friends and relatives.
Chikki is a sticky candy made of molten jaggery-liquid glucose-cardamom, etc., to which roasted peanuts are stirred in, poured while still hot into greased trays, levelled with big rolling pins and finally cut into bite size pieces before they cool down. Quite hard to break and bite into. Needs strong teeth to enjoy. Can crush and eat too. Healthy, energizing and tasty to eat as a snack anytime. Other variants are sesame, cashews, dry fruits, dry grated coconut and roasted bengal gram. My preference has always been the Lonawala Cashew chikki made with sugar and liquid glucose. See picture below. However, a crushed peanut chikki variety is a melt in the mouth with cardamom flavor added to it. This is the fastest selling product produced in volumes each day through the week. No machines. Only men and women work in this unit right from melting the jaggery, roasting ingredients, rolling the candy flat with a huge rolling pin right upto packing and dispatching boxes all over the country and abroad.
Though my reluctant taxi driver told me no one is allowed into a chikki making unit, i did get some information on the location with a hope that i can go around the unit to see the process of how its manufactured in large scale and perhaps gather a recipe or two, alas could not get in, leave alone get their recipes. Could visit the famed Maganlal Chikki of Lonavala but was not allowed beyond the entrance, though could peep through windows and the doorway to see men at work and products stacked in plastic tubs. The crushed peanut chikki is the fastest selling product among their range of chikkis.
Bright colored jelly candies were drying on the ground in the visitors’ area. The bright added colors may be harmful but that’s what attracts the kids to go for it. Felt it was unhygienic to dry them under a fan, on the floor, where workers, handlers and visitors like us walk about the place.
Got talking to a lady who was shouting out orders to the manual laborers of the unit. Found out she was the daughter-in-law of the factory owner. She is the 5th generation to run the unit while her in-laws took care of her two young children at home nearby.
See picture of 8 varieties of their products below.
Bright color jelly candies drying on floor level in unhyeigenic conditions before packing.