For the rest of the world, the charm of a particular whisky depends largely on how well it fairs in terms of taste, texture and ingredients. But for Indians, a dram can instantly qualify as a charmer, as long as it has ‘chakhnas’ to accompany it.
To the unversed, chakhna refers to an entire spread of dry snacks usually served in Indian bars along with alcohol. There’s not much light on where or how exactly the term originated. But, it does have some resemblance with Spanish Tapas or Mexican chips and salsa which are served as complementary accompaniments with every drink, and that too for free!
In India, every other bar has its own take on chakhna and it’s not just limited to a bunch of usual items like salted peanuts, sev or papad. Indians instinctively share an affection for cuisines that are rich in flavour and aroma. Thus, it’s only natural that they’ll want their chakhna to be as loud and diverse as the food they prefer.
So, here’s the list of top 5 chakhnas that Indians love with their drinks. Feel free to try them out.
Served with ketchup or hot sauce, fish fingers reign high on the list of chakhnas that Indians prefer. When properly seasoned, these delectable fish sticks leave behind a lingering fishy aftertaste which pairs up well with the spicy notes of any blended whisky—we recommend Blenders Pride Reserve. It might sound like an exaggeration, but evenly crumbed and lightly seasoned fish fingers can be as good as fried chicken, any day.
This Indian snack mix is simply a variable concoction of several dried and spicy food ingredients such as corn, chickpeas, fried onions, flaked rice, grounded peanuts, fried lentils, chickpea flour (sev), curry leaves, dried coconut crumbs and much more. There’s something about this fuss-free and irresistibly tasty chakhna that makes it just right for that moment when you’ve already ordered your drink but you’re not sure which appetiser to go for. And if you are unsure about which whisky to order with your Chana Chur, try the Imperial Blue Whisky.
For those who aren’t well versed with Indian cuisine, paneer tikka is actually marinated cottage cheese cubes that are arranged on skewers and baked in the oven. The recipe is specifically referred to as Tandoori Paneer Tikka, as the paneer is baked in tandoor (Oven) which lends it a subtle smoky flavour worth pairing up with any drink, be it 100 Pipers Whisky or Ballantine’s Whisky. Just one suggestion – do ask the waiter for some freshly chopped onion and mint leave sauce as complementary accompaniments to the dish.
A non-veg counterpart of Paneer Tikka – Tandoori Chicken is undeniably the national chakhna of India. One of the most distinct aspects that make this dish an all-time favourite among Indians is the Tandoori masala which is used to marinate the chicken. The masala comprises of several spices such as ginger, garam masala, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper. All these spices together create a gamut of flavours which are sure to take your taste buds for a whirlwind ride. On top of it, the smoky goodness of the roasted meat also pairs up well with both single malt whisky like Aberlour and blended whisky like Royal Salute with a heavy base.
Bhujia/ Salted Peanuts/ Masala Papad
Spicy, salty and tangy – Bhujia serves as the most commonly consumed snack food of India. Made from pulse flours and spices, Bhujia doesn’t essentially need a particular occasion or reason to be consumed. Pair it up with any drink and it just works fine. The same applies for the other two variants of the group. Salted peanuts are quintessential to every sip of whisky. Roasted or boiled, these crunchy little wonders are perfect for every mood.