Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spicy peanut powder - call it a powder or an instant chutney

It is one of those really long, never ending week days when you haven't had a proper lunch either and have spent a good amount of after work time in chauffeuring the kid from one activity to the other. By the time you reach home, the entire family has reached the peak of crankiness and you find the refrigerator is devoid any re-heatable items. Didn't you & dear spouse have a discussion on the umpteen left overs only the previous week and decided not to cook too much at one go and fill the refrigerator? I am sure many of you will empathize with what I am talking about.

Is there a go-to dinner item you guys prefer when you are tired, it is a week day and your stomach is growling by the time you reach home? We love godhi dosa on these ocassions, it is easy to whip up, nutritious and always turns out delicious. But like I said in my godhi dosa post, we have this combo thing going and have to have peanut chutney whenever godhi dosa is made. If I put a bowl of peanut chutney on the table, an extra dosa goes inside for DD :-). Being a mom, I can't pass on that opportunity to over feed my kid.  But since it is one of those "I am late, tired and hungry" days, roasting peanuts, letting them cool, grinding them into a chutney all seem extremely tedious. That is when this powder comes to the rescue. I can turn the powder into a mouthwatering chutney in 2 minutes, in fact BH gets it ready while I mix the godhi dosa batter and start making dosas, we have done this so many times, it is almost like clock work now. The cranky family that entered the house a few minutes ago return to their usual happy and civilized state as soon the hot, lacy dosas dipped in tangy, spicy peanut chutney hits the stomach and things are all cozy once again :-). I love these life saving, instant mixes.

I am quite a nut when it comes to nuts in my cooking. Nuts are my go to snacks when craving hits (and I can actually stay away from the ever appealing jar of deep fried Indian snacks :-)). Nuts though are not great protein sources, are very high up there as energy boosters and hence come in handy when the clock strikes 4pm. An Indian vegetarian diet is inherently loaded with legumes and nuts. Take any North Indian gravy for example, they will invariably have some cashew nuts or almonds to bring in creamy richness. South Indian kitchens stock up on powders made with many a nut or lentils. So needless to say I grew up with a number of pudi or powders in our very South Indian household. But surprisingly was never introduced to peanut powder until after my wedding.

Then again, peanut powder is not an Andhra original either, amma apparently learnt it from a Maharastrian neighbor when they lived in Nigeria :-), I am convinced that good food travels the World and stands the test of time. I have blogged about peanut chutney here. Today it is the turn of peanut podi or powder and how you can make an instant chutney with this powder. Now this powder is one of my pantry staples since it is so versatile and I use it in multiple different ways. I will talk about its other uses on other posts.
What do you need to make peanut powder? 
Makes 2 cups peanut powder
2 cups raw peanuts
6-8 dry red chilies(adjust to taste)
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)

How do you make peanut powder? 
  • Take a heavy bottom, wide pan and heat it on medium heat. 
  • Add the raw peanuts to the pan and stirring occasionally  roast the peanuts until they start to pop and develop some black spots on the skin. 
  • Peanuts will become crisp and lose their raw smell. take them off the stove and keep aside to cool. The roasting process takes about 10-12 minutes on medium heat. 
  • In the same pan, add the dry red chilies and fry for a minute (open the windows and/or switch on the exhaust to allow air to circulate), add cumin and roast for 30-45 seconds, switch off and take them onto a plate. 
  • At this stage, you can either choose to de-skin the roasted peanuts or grind them as they are. I make it both ways depending on the 'mood of the day'. 
  • If you plan to remove the skin of the peanuts, once cool, put them in a ziplock bag, close it and give a couple of hard rubs on the outside so the skin peels. Put them on a flat plate and gently blow through them to separate the nuts and the husk. Preferably do it in the backyard where you can sweep off the husk easily:-). 
  • Making the powder - Take the ingredients to the mixer along with salt and make a powder, remember this is not a fine powder, you need to run your mixer on pulse a couple of times and then run it full speed once mixing the ingredients in between. If you run the motor for long, peanuts become an oily mass and your only choice is to make a chutney of the whole thing and consume it quickly. The powder can be stored up to 2 weeks at room temperature or longer inside the refrigerator. You can mix this powder with rice and use it with idli/dosa as an accompaniment.
  • Making instant chutney from the powder - Take 4 Tblsp of the peanut powder, add 2-3 Tblsp of whisked yogurt to get the right consistency of your choice. Make a seasoning with a pinch of asafoetida, 1/2 Tsp mustard, 1/4 Tsp cumin seeds, couple of curry leaves and 1 or 2 pieces of broken dry red chili. Pour the sizzling seasoning on top, mix it well and enjoy with dosa, idli and such. 
  • It is important to roast the peanuts well, under done peanuts leave a really bad after taste while over done or burnt peanuts are no good either. 
  • Peanuts can be roasted in the microwave but you will need to watch the times closely depending on your microwave power. 
  • You can use a combination of red chilies to get the desired color and heat (thumb rule - Byadagi chilies are milder but give a radiant color, Guntur chilies are spicier but lack the color).
  • If you are pressed for time, you can make a quick fix powder using the store bought, dry roasted, salted peanuts. I personally like to roast raw peanuts at home. 
  • Many times, I do not remove the skin of the roasted peanuts but grind them as they are. This is much more convenient since I just add red chilies and cumin seeds to the same pan a minute or two before switching off the stove. 
  • Like anything else with nuts, things tend to go rancid after a long storage, while 2 weeks is a decent period, I don't recommend storing the powder for too long since it will also lose the flavor.

I am sending this to Priya's Cooking with seeds - Peanuts event.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

peanut powder i love it. with this powder we can make instant chutney as you made for dosa......or even we mix it in hot rice with a bit of ghee(wow)and even we can put in curries like curry powder.very good recipe of peanut powder ,thanks sattvaa!!

kitchen queen said...

delicious peanut powder to have with hot rice and a few dollops ghee.

Meena Selvakumaran said...

never tried peanuts powder,sounds delicious.

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

I should definitely stock on this powder as there are many days, like the one you've mentioned and this is a life saver....
I guess both of are on a podi posting spree :)

Saranya Balaji said...

Home-made powders are always best...well made...

sashi said...

you can toast peanuts in the toaster ovens. Set it to toast and for 5-7 min. It comes out uniformly toasted. Also be aware that the toasting continues for a couple of min even after you remove it from the oven.