Friday, February 01, 2008

Shengdana Chutney

We have a snow day today! That can mean only one thing- I have time to log on and ramble on and write a post. This is an entry for My Legume Love Affair, an event hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. I have been indulging in a not-so-secret love affair with legumes for most of my life, and hardly could pass on an opportunity for this PDA :D

Often disparagingly called the Poor Man's Meat, the family of lentils, including peas, lentils and beans, are finally being recognized as the culinary gold that they are. Full of fiber, iron and protein, and low in fat- they are a tasty way to break away from a meat-guzzling diet ( as Mark Bittman calls it) and into one that places a high value on plant-based foods. Legumes are some very selfless and community-minded plants: as they grow, they convert atmospheric nitrogen into "fertilizer" and enrich the soil. Remember the nitrogen cycle from elementary school science class?

I never met a bean or a lentil that I did not love, but my heart belongs to peanuts! Well, those peanuts too, but mainly these:
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Yes, although peanuts are classified as nuts in the kitchen, they are botanically part of the legume family- rather unusual members of this family because they grow under the ground. In fact, one of the common Marathi names for peanuts is bhui-moog which literally translates as earth-beans (am I right?); the other, more common name is shengdana.

I grew up in a peanut-growing region of Maharashtra (in fact, a region that grows all sorts of cash crops like sugarcane, cotton, peanuts, tobacco in abundance, and has the prosperity to show for it), so peanuts have always been a big part of my life. In season, when fresh newly-dug peanuts arrive on the market (with dark soil still caked over the shells), it is time for one of life's greatest edible pleasures: boiled peanuts! Peanut oil is the natural choice for a cooking medium. Even today, my mother buys peanut oil straight from a refinery- every few months, she hops in her car with two stainless steel jerry cans, drives to a tiny oil-pressing unit in the heart of town and waits as they fill the cans with still-warm peanut oil. It is sold by the kilogram. The peanut residue, which remains quite nutritious, is pressed into cakes and fed to cattle (who also live in the heart of town with their owners). Only in Kolhapur!

Recently, my love for peanuts was intensified even more when I heard a talk by a local doctor who is doing some incredible work in the African nation of Malawi- he has developed a peanut-based ready-to-eat paste that has shown impressive results in being to rescue severely malnourished children. I admire a lot of things about this Project Peanut Butter, including the fact that locally produced peanuts are being bought to make this nutritious paste, thus helping the local economy while saving tiny lives (the majority of food relief programs rely on surplus cheap grain being shipped in from far away).

Today, I am making a dry peanut chutney, one of a family of dry chutneys that are very popular in Maharashtrian homes. A scoop of flavorful chutney can liven up even the simplest of meals. It is actually very similar to a number of chutneys I have written about before, such as this garlicky one. This one is heavy on the peanuts, but also contains other flavors that I love, such as coconut and sesame and garlic and coriander, in a very everything-but-the-kitchen-sink fashion. I have tweaked the proportions over countless batches to get the taste that I happen to like the most. Use my proportions, or feel free to tweak them to your own taste. I often make this chutney to give as a small gift from my kitchen, and most people who taste it seem to like it.

Shengdana Chutney
(Dry Peanut Chutney)

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Ingredients:
1 C peanuts, roasted lightly and skinned
2 T sesame seeds
2 T unsweetened dry coconut flakes
4-5 dried red chillies (or to taste)
10-15 fresh curry leaves
2 garlic cloves (optional)
1 T coriander seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1-2 t tamarind pulp (not paste) (optional)
2 t sugar (or to taste)
1 t salt (or to taste)
Method:
1. Heat a heavy skillet (low-medium heat) and add the peanuts first. When they are lightly browned, add the sesame seeds, coconut, chillies, curry leaves, garlic, coriander and cumin. Keep stirring and roasting until all the ingredient are toasty and fragrant.
2. Let the mixture cool down completely (the curry leaves will be crispy and dry by then). Place in a food processor/ mixie bowl with the tamarind, sugar and salt. Process until the mixture is uniformly powdered. Keep processing until the oil starts to be extracted from the peanuts and the chutney starts to clump together (not until it becomes peanut butter, mind you). Taste for a balance of flavors and adjust them if necessary.
3. Store in an air-tight bottle at room temperature for 3-4 weeks or so. This recipe yields about a medium jar of chutney- perfect for a family of 2-4.

How do you enjoy this chutney? Let me count the ways...
1. Spread on little buttered crackers to make chutney toasts like in the picture above. They make great little snacks!
2. Stir into yogurt for an instant dip.
3. Sprinkle on hot buttered toast for a spicy breakfast treat.
4. Eat as a podi with ghee and rice.
5. Mix with untoasted sesame oil to make a chutney for idlis and dosas.
6. Serve in a little heap as an accompaniment to any home-style meal such as dal and rice, yogurt rice or chapati and vegetables. This is the way it is traditionally served.
And creative readers mentioned other ways of enjoying it
7. Sprinkle on pizza instead of red pepper flakes (Bee)
8. Sprinkle on buttered bread, then toast the bread on a tava (Shankari)
9. Add some yogurt to the chutney and enjoy with poli/chapati//fulkas (Anjali, Manasi)
10. Eat with hot poli/chapati and ghee (Musical)
10. Eat with vada pav (Pooja)
11. Eat with dhokla (Coffee)
12. Use as a masala over shallow fried green chillies (Roshni)

Enjoy your weekend!

33 comments:

  1. A Healthy recipe. I prefer something Indian like this instead of peanut butter. Great recipe.

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  2. Yay for the snow, only because we got an extra treat from you!
    Hope Dale is keeping warm without his little patch of sunshine.
    Kamini

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  3. oohh this is soo much like the dry coconut chutney we make!! lovely!!

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  4. Nupur, I'm glad to have my own bad weather stay-at-home day, too. I get to be one of the first to read about this wonderfully tasty chutney. Good to see peanuts in the spotlight, too.

    Thanks for taking part in the event, and for linking to Bittman's article; it's one of the best ever written on the issue.

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  5. the similar one you sent us was great on pizza. it's better than chilli flakes. :D

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  6. Nupur, I lovelove this. We had neighbors from kholapur who would make it for us.We use to live in Belgaum and I grew up on these. My mom would butter bread, sprinkle this powder and toast it in a tava.. U brought back memories NUpur. Thanks for this recipe

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  7. Nupur - I just loved ur post, the basic reason being to get know noble projects like "Project Peanut Butter".. and love all the 6 ways to eat this chutney!

    ~ Siri

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  8. Nice one Nupur. I have tasted this from a maharastrian friend & absolutely love it. Its great to eat just with Dhal chawal..

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  9. Lovely Nupur, wishing for more snow days, these unexpected holidays sure are a real treat. Starting with the name "Shengdana Chutney" love everything about it.

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  10. Marathi Manus/Bai and Shengadanyachi chutney - its like marriage made in heaven :)
    If I have no vegetables to cook then I just take out my Sumit mixer, peanuts and make this chutney. Add some dahi to the chutney and enjoy with Poli.
    Best lunch in a jiffy.
    Thanks Nupur.

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  11. I am sure this tastes great on everything. I am thinking some sprinkled over curd rice :)

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  12. Oh, i was looking for it since a long time, didnt know how they make it , thank a lot for sharing Nupur. I love it with Vada pau.

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  13. Oooh!! danyachi chutney! I love this! I used to mix it with yogurt and eat my fulkas with it when mom made eggplant curry!!
    Warm hugs to Dale for the COLD weather!!

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  14. Moongphali ka jawaab nahin :). The best snack ever and jazzes up any meal as a garnish. Lovely, chutney Nupur! Stay warm and enjoy the peanuts , both kinds :-D. Have my share of that chutney with some hot poli ane toop :).

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  15. Yummy! Will this keep well in the fridge? I thought about you today when I heard St. Louis got 8 inches of snow - we got lots and lots of rain, if it had been snow we would have been up to our ears in the stuff!

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  16. How I always wait for my mom in law to send me this one!! She is practically brought up in a maharashtrian locality so her food is always gujju with a hint of maharashtrain flarour. The most famous combination in the house is gujju dhokla with this chutney. haha

    I guess I can tell her to take rest now and make the chutney myself. Thanks for the recipe. :)

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  17. Hi Nupur,
    Love your recipes catogory.
    chutney looks tempting.made your onion soup it came out well.thank you.
    vineela

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  18. wow...this would even taste great with idli dosas..i will surely try this but minus the garlic as i dont eat garlic

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  19. Dry Shengdana chutney is a first for me. Seems easy to make and tasy too.
    Even in Bangalore my mom has similar experience buying groundnut oil. She gets it from a local vendor who sells oil by kilogram.

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  20. Nupur i already tried this chutney and it is fabulous, i tried it with as a masala over shallow fried green chillies ...and it was really good. i am a regular reader of your blog and i must tell you that you doing a very good job out of it ...infact these days i have stopped refering to my cookbooks :) please dont ever stop blogging.
    roshni

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  21. Mythreyee, well, I love this chutney and I love peanut butter too. I am an equal opportunity peanut lover :D

    Kamini, actually, the sun shone bright right after the snow ended, so we had brilliantly sparkling snow. Dale got me at home all day AND his sunlight, so he is a happy pooch :)

    Superchef, yes, sometimes I just increase the proportion of coconut to make coconut chutney.

    Susan, you got a day off too? :) Thanks for hosting this fun event!

    Bee, pizza is a very innovative idea :) got to try that!

    Shankari, in my mind, that is the BEST way to eat this- on toasted bread. Heavenly!

    Siri, yes, I really admire people who use innovative ways to solve problems that the world faces. Glad you like the chutney too!

    Seema, yes, it is fabulous with plain dal and rice!

    Indosungod, glad you liked it :) I could have used the snow day to finish some chores...but spent all day cooking and blogging instead!

    Anjali, yup, it sure is a matter of lifelong love :D that impromptu lunch sounds like the most delicious meal!

    Suganya, oh yes, this chutney and curd rice are just made for each other!

    Pooja, vada pav...now you are making my mouth water! I think traditionally the vada pav chutney has a lot more garlic and chillies in it, and less peanuts. But this would work too :)

    Manasi, see, if I were you, I would gobble up both the eggplant curry and danyachi chutney (had forgotten this name for it) with yogurt! Dale is snug as a bug on our futon :) and send his love to you.

    Musical, you said it! Definitely my snack of choice too. Hope you are staying warm too!

    Cathy, it keeps well right at room temperature, actually! I edited the post to say that...thanks for bringing it up. It is a great condiment to keep in the pantry to enjoy over for a few weeks. Oh, it sounds like the monsoons hit you! WE did have 8 inches of snow, and it is a slushy slippery mess out here :D

    Coffee, oh yeah? dhokla with this chutney? Now that's what I call national integration :D Yeah, you can make it easily at home. Then send her some- she might be impressed ;)

    Vineela, glad you enjoyed the onion soup! Thanks for the feedback :)

    easycrafts, I often make it without garlic- it will taste just fine with out without garlic.

    Red Chillies, yes, it is really easy to make. And with all those delicious ingredients, it never fails to be tasty.

    Roshni, this must be a record :) you made it already?! That is a very unusual way of using it- as a masala...very innovative of you! Thank you for your sweet words and your encouragement, Roshni! It is what keeps me blogging :)

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  22. While reading the post I was wondering with what we can eat it. And then saw a whole lot of suggestions. Thanks

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  23. Hey Nupur,
    You are the best...My husband and me always wait for your recipe.. They are just amazing and simple to cook. And they taste too good. Thanks for writing this blog. Keep it up.

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  24. There is one more way to enjoy this Chutney - with Hurda. Hurda translates to raw Sorghum grains - green and sweet. In January its a special feast on Maharashtra farms where Hurda is served and savoured with yougurt and this Chutney - a real treat!

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  25. I've never had anything like this and can't wait to try it. Your blog is great, I discovered you through Goddess Findings and am so glad I did.

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  26. Hi Nupur,

    New to your blog and am very excited to explore your past entries and start cooking. Recently married a Marathi man, need to play catch up and start feeding him his faves;) I recently found a great use for this chutney: frozen green beans- just add a little chutney as they boil in a little water (or stock of choice for extra flavor) and a little butter- great way to enjoy your veggies in a new and spicier way. I like to add a little chutney on top at the end for a little more flavor.

    Thanks for the great recipies-

    Vidupa

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  27. Dear Vidupa, that is an innovative use indeed! I can't wait to try this in summer, when we are flooded with fresh green beans here. Thank you for sharing your creative use here :)
    Hope you find the recipes useful. Happy cooking!

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  28. My favorite chatni!!! and all the ways that i enjoy it have been listed here...loved this post! :)

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  29. Hi Nupur
    This is Shilpa Mande.I am from kolhapur and studied in the same school you did Nice to see all the intersting stuff that you make and also help us make yummy recipes. I am a big fan of all your recipes.
    Bye

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  30. Hi nupur,
    It's a lovely item. I never seen this item. Let me make by your following recipe and taste.

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  31. Hi there - I absolutely love this chutney. My colleagues get it to work and I Googled the recipe so I can make it at home. Quick question though, does the 'T' in your recipe stand for teaspoon or tablespoon? This question may sound stupid to you but I am not a seasoned chef... :-)

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  32. I like this recipe. these Shengdana chutney are sure to taste great and are extremely nutritious as well. I am going to make it for the holidays when my kids will be at home. I'll be sure that what they are eating is healthy.

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  33. Very good recipe, I wasn't able to find a recipe for dry chutney.

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