Oct 11, 2011

The Peanut affair

Peanuts and I go a long way back to my childhood days. I think the love affair started when my sister and I used to play Ghar-ghar or house-house. Our mother would give us a fistful of peanuts and some jaggery to use in our make believe pantry. Sometimes the peanuts would be replaced by a piece of khopra (dry coconut). Watching us play, my mom was sure I was going to be a spendthrift and my sister the one who was careful with her money.

It turns out that my fondness for gobbling up the peanuts was not matched by my ability to spend money. I did not turn out to be the spendthrift like my mom feared. If anything, my friends feel I am a little bit too careful with my money.
However, I digress from the peanut affair. Raw peanuts, roasted peanuts, peanut laddoos, potatoes cooked with crushed peanuts, peanut chikki (brittle), nothing was off limits when it came to my affair with the peanut. Eleven years ago, in the country of Lady Liberty, I discovered the joys of peanut butter and another chapter was added to my peanut affair. I found out I could eat it with chocolate, with apples, spread on a whole wheat tortilla with some jam and sometimes just dip a spoon and lick it straight off the jar.
Raw peanut pods for Susan's BWW

However, I still keep going back to my favorite way of eating peanuts since childhood. In Indore, where I grew up, mungfalliwalas (peanut sellers) would make the rounds of the dusty lanes in my town during peanut harvest. He would have pre-boiled the tender peanuts pods in salty water. They would then be slow roasted in woks, filled with hot sand, set atop a coal stove placed at the end of his thela (push cart).
Boiled, shelled and roasted for Susan's BWW

He would serve them by the kilo in paper cones and we would all sit on the floor, after dinner, and devour the peanuts, splitting the shell by applying pressure on the beak. Biting down on the crunchy, salty outer layer we would savor the sweet, soft meat inside. Fresh, green chickpea shells suffered a similar fate but that story is for another post.

Today, I give you salted, boiled and roasted peanuts of my childhood.

There is no real recipe to boiling peanuts. Fill a big stockpot or a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the peanuts. Add about a tablespoon of salt for every one and a half cup of peanut pods. Boil the peanuts till tender.

Let cool and shell the peanuts. In a heavy bottom pan or wok, roast on medium low flame till the peanuts change color from a tender, pink to a crusty, salty smoky red. Cool a little bit before digging in.

Note: I have, in the past, tried to roast the peanuts in their shells. It takes a long time and a lot of stirring to get the peanuts the right consistency. Shelling the peanuts and roasting them is faster and the texture is similar to the one the mungfalliwala sold.

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