A packetful of happiness! Undoubtedly the Lonavla chikki beats all other variations of the jaggery and peanut combo sweets we get here in India. In fact, most of the Indian states do make their own version of this sweet or is it a confection? Layiya Patti from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, similar looking variation Gajak is from Madhya Pradesh and down south in India, one can again find chikki but the taste and the colour would be different. So when you are in or around Lonavla, go chikki shopping! It’s definitely a shopping of a different type.
One gets to hear and read one story in particular when one mentions ‘Lonavla chikki’! It all started with the Khandala Railway station construction during the British era – The senior Agarwal then selling ‘guddani’ (the then version of chikki) to the labourers working at the construction site. It was an instant energy booster and affordable. That is an interesting bit of information and many, I am sure, have written about the same and quite a few have read that. I would be interested in the trivia about the Khandala railway station also, which was a part of the Karjat-Pune Railway line. It was constructed under the guidance of the British surveyor and route designer James Berkley, who happened to be the Chief engineer with Great Indian Peninsula Railway. Now, that trivia isn’t mentioned much when we talk or write about Lonavla chikki. BTW, Khandala is a beautiful small hill station one passes through before one reaches Lonavla, while travelling from Mumbai.
That said, I feel one should just eat and enjoy the flavours of the chikki that one gets in Lonavla. The place is brimming with chikki shops and they offer unimaginable flavours each and every time I visit the place. Unless you are particular about eating chikkis from only the authentic Maganlal stores or an A-one store or for that matter National chikki store, I would recommend trying chikki from any of the stores spread all over Lonavla. They all taste yummy. Only check for the dates as older ones would not be crispy or tasty.
Traditional varieties are the whole groundnut or the crushed groundnut chikkis. But with eclectic varieties on display, one ends up shopping for lot more than one would have wanted to actually buy. The rates per kilogram generally would be between 300 INR- 400 INR for the simple groundnut chikki and the dry fruit and the other flavoured varieties would be 1000 INR and upwards.
I have personally picked up packets of chikki from many stores all over the place in Lonavla but my lunch stop at Ramakrishna Hotel on the main road in Lonavla provides me with an easy opportunity to drop in at the Prohit Chikki and Sweets shop. This time’s chikki shopping was fun. Unexpectedly got an opportunity to take a look and a few pics of the huge ‘Chikki’ spread at the stores. And I had my hands rubbing with glee! The staff working was amused to see my interest in clicking them packing the goodie and I was completely taken aback to see such a big Chikki Platform, right in front of me.
It’s not just chikki that the shops sell. The shops are well stocked with fresh fudge in different flavours, chocolates, jelly-candies, jam bottles, syrups and believe it or not some namkeens too. The spicy sev or the masala peanuts etc can be given a try. But Chikki – that’s what one goes for to Lonavla, apart from the lovely vistas of the monsoon climate, that is. The taste of chikki in Purohit’s has been consistent over the few years that I have shopped at Purohit’s. This time I was treated to rose flavoured dry fruit chikki. I seem to have fallen in love with this flavour.