For the ultimate savoury snack, experience the total flavour bomb that is Kenya Chevdo (sometimes called Kenya Chevda).
This shortcut recipe is a mixed bag of potato crisps, nuts, puffed rice and spices. The hot and sour flavours are utterly addictive.
Cut much of the hard work out of making this spicy concoction by buying your potato crisps and sticks.
What is Kenya Chevdo?
Kenya chevdo is a product of cultures mingling. It’s origins lie in the South Asian diaspora cuisine of East Africa.
Chevdo, or chivda is an Indian snack mix of puffed rice, daal, fried potatoes, nuts and spices. The Indian version is typically heavily seasoned.
The likes of cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds produce big flavours. It’s a popular tea-time snack, along with a cuppa steaming hot chai.
Having said this, Kenya Chevdo is an adapted version and delicious in its’ own right.
It doesn’t go wild with the spices, but instead draws flavour from a great deal of crispy fried curry leaves, chilli, turmeric, citric acid, salt and sugar.
The result is a fragrant chilli-lemon crisps vibe.
You can taste the sweet, starchiness of potatoes, the earthy peanuts and fried daal, and of course, appreciate the welcome sweetness of sultanas.
It sounds like pure sacrilege, but have you ever had a chevdo sandwich? It’s incredible! An upgrade on the rather bland crisps sandwiches of my childhood.
As soon as I took my first bite of a chevdo sandwich, I was hooked.
Pillowy bread, salty butter and a liberal whack of chilli-lemon textures danced on my tongue like no jam sandwich ever could!
Main ingredients in Kenya Chevdo
The main ingredients in most typical Kenya chevdo recipes include: Potato chips, potato crisps, channa daal, moong daal, poha, peanuts, cashews, curry leaves, chilli powder, salt, turmeric, sugar and citric acid.
However, this can be adapted in so many different ways, according to personal taste. Feel free to mix things up and add more or less of what you like.
Other types of Chevdo
This recipe for Cereal Chevdo calls for breakfast cereals like cornflakes, Cheerios/unsweetened loops, nuts and seeds.
It’s a lighter version of traditional Chevdo, should you wish to skip much of the deep frying.
Here’s a recipe for Kid-Friendly Chevdo (Chivda). My son Bodhi’s favourite mix of kid-friendly puffs, cereals and spices.
This recipe is inspired by Chevdo, a classic Indian tea-time snack. No added salt, chilli or whole nuts.
Kid-friendly puffs, straws and hoops bought from the children’s aisle at the supermarket.
How long can you keep chevdo?
Pack into airtight containers and store in a cool, dark place for up to 8 weeks. Shake the containers regularly to distribute the seasoning and coat everything evenly.
After this time, the chevdo may begin to taste stale.
Can I make this without nuts?
Yes. Although Kenya Chevdo is known to contain nuts, it’s possible to simply omit them.
I recommend adding an equal weight of one or two of the other ingredients you prefer as a substitute. This will ensure the seasoning isn’t too strong.
Can I make sugar free Kenya Chevdo?
The sugar in this recipe balances out the salty, sour and hot flavours of the other seasonings. If you are avoiding sugar, feel free to reduce the amount or omit it altogether.
The amount specified in my recipe achieves the flavour of most typical Kenya Chevdo mixes on the market.
What can I use in place of citric acid?
I do not recommend substituting the citric acid in this recipe with lemon juice or other souring agents. It will make it soggy and the chevdo will spoil very quickly due to the excess moisture.
You can buy citric acid in all South Asian food shops or online.
Is this a vegan Kenya Chevdo recipe?
Yes, this recipe contains no animal-derived ingredients and is therefore, suitable for vegans.
Is this a gluten free recipe?
Kenya Chevdo is typically a naturally gluten-free preparation since it is made with potatoes, daal, rice and nuts.
You will, however need to check all packaging for the ingredients you use if you are cooking for someone who has coeliac disease.
For example, some potato chips contain wheat flour and gluten-based ingredients, so take extra care.
How to make Shortcut Kenya Chevdo
- 375 g unsalted potato sticks
- 250 g ready salted crisps
- 250 g poha, flattened rice, uncooked
- 100 g channa daal, soaked in hot water for 3 hours, then thoroughly drained and patted dry with kitchen towel
- 100 g moong daal, soaked in hot water for 3 hours, then thoroughly drained and patted dry with kitchen towel
- 125 g peanuts
- 50 g cashews
- 45 g curry leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
- 65 g sultanas, (golden raisins)
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp citric acid (don’t substitute lemon/lime juice as they will add moisture and affect the shelf life of the chevdo), coarsely pounded in a pestle and mortar
- 2 tsp salt, coarsely pounded in a pestle and mortar
- 100 g sugar, coarsely pounded in a pestle and mortar
- 1 L oil for deep frying
- Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based pan like a kadai or wok. The temperature of the oil should be approximately 180°C/355°F and set over a moderate heat.
- Fry the channa daal for 3-4 minutes until it's crispy all over but not browned. Repeat for the moong daal. Since the moong daal is smaller, they will take just 2 minutes to become crispy. Set aside on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
- Next, fry the peanuts and for a minute or so, until they are very lightly browned. Repeat for the cashews, which will take only 30-40 seconds. Set aside on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel. Alternatively, you can roast the nuts in the oven until lightly golden brown.
- Fry the poha. They will take just 10-12 seconds to puff up at this temperature. Set aside on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
- The last thing to fry are the curry leaves. Fry for 40-60 seconds or until translucent and brittle. Do not let them brown too much. Set aside on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
- In a bowl, mix together the chilli powder, turmeric, citric acid, salt and sugar. Stir well.
- Grab a very large container or basin. Add the unsalted potato sticks and sprinkle over a dessertspoon full of the seasoning. Next add the crisps, and scatter more of the seasoning. Tip in the poha and top with more seasoning. The next step is to crush some of the curry leaves between your palms and add it to the mixture.
- Add in the sultanas, channa daal, moong daal and peanuts. Finish with the rest of the seasoning and then, with clean hands, toss everything together so all the ingredients are coated. Crush some of the crisps up so everything is of a similar size. Pack into airtight containers and store in a cool, dark place for up to 8 weeks. Shake the containers regularly to distribute the seasoning and coat everything evenly.
- Pre-fried moong daal, channa daal and puffed rice are all available in shops and can be used in this recipe. However, many contain a great deal of added spices and seasonings which are rather strong in flavour and not particularly common in Kenya Chevdo (such as chaat masala). If you like these, feel free to use them.
- If you want to keep frying to a minimum, you can buy everything pre-roasted in packs. Check your local Indian or East African food shop.
- The curry leaves are essential to this recipe and must be fried to extract as much flavour as possible. If you do not fry the curry leaves and dry roast them, the flavour will not be as potent as it should be.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 35 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 249mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g
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If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Crispy Potato Bhajias