The Cheater Chef Indian Chex Mix (“chiwda”) recipe honors University of Tennessee football fans everywhere who struggled through biochemistry with the late Dr. Jayant Joshi. Dr. Joshi was a renowned researcher and beloved UT biochemistry professor for more than 40 years. We recently visited with his wife, Nima, who now lives in Nashville with their daughter’s family, and she made her version of the famous chiwda for us.
The traditional blend of Indian seasonings melded with snacks from her adopted country is a fantastic tailgate option, whatever team you root for. And it’s far more delicious and sophisticated than the unbalanced, dumbed down processed stuff in a bag The mix of American and Indian ingredients was born out of necessity. When the family moved to Knoxville in 1970 there were few Indian families and even fewer Indian markets. Today in Nashville, Nima finds everything Indian at Patel’s market on Nolensville Rd. No more waiting at the Greyhound station for that shipment of chapati flour from California!
Like any Chex mix recipe, the blend of cereals, nuts, and snacks is up to you. Adjust any ingredient as you like, but keep to total volume. The key to chiwda is to toast the spices in oil to allow their flavors to emerge before coating the cereal. After baking, you’ll have an addictively crunchy, spicy snack that’s perfect with cocktails or cold beer. Most of the seasonings are available in traditional supermarkets, but a trip to Patel’s is economical, educational, and fun.
Make it as spicy as you like by tweaking the garam masala and red pepper.
- 8 cups crispy rice cereal
- 4 cups rice Chex cereal
- 2 cups potato sticks
- 1 cup roasted Spanish peanuts
- 1 cup roasted cashews
- 1 cup fried onions
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus additional oil as needed
- 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 12 -15 fresh curry leaves
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- Heaping tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon red pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin/coriander blend
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup roasted chana dal
Heat the oven to 350 F. Combine the cereals, potato sticks, nuts, and onions in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan. Blend well.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop, about 30 seconds.
Add the cumin seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, sesame seeds, garam masala, red pepper, and ground cumin/coriander. Stir and cook until fragrant and heated through.
Sprinkle cereal with salt and sugar.
Pour hot seasonings and oil over the cereal. Blend well.
Drizzle with additional oil as needed to lightly coat the cereal.
Bake the cereal mixture at 350º F for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 200º F and continue to cook 30 to 45 minutes or until cereal is crisp.
Stir occasionally during cooking.
Add the raisins and chana dal after removing the mix from the oven.
Store in an airtight container. Makes about 16 cups.