An event called Back to Basics celebrates just this feature of home cooking, where home cooks take small steps to self-reliance. The first round-up is full of useful how-tos. This month, the event is hosted at Served with Love.
I am contributing this jar of crushed peanuts or coarsely powdered peanuts, called danyacha koot, a staple in my kitchen and in many Maharashtrian homes. It consists of only one ingredient: peanuts.
Peanut powder, humble as it is, is quite the versatile ingredient. I use it in-
- Sabudana khichdi: Whether you choose to make this on the stove top or in the microwave, crushed peanuts are the star of this beloved Maharashtrian dish.
- Koshimbir: The Maharashtrian take on raita or salad. The way I make it, vegetables (carrots, cucumber, cabbage, tomato, beets) are chopped or shredded, and tossed with salt, cumin powder, crushed peanuts and minced cilantro. I often add either lemon juice or yogurt. The peanuts give flavor and texture to this quick salad.
- Vegetable curries: Toss a few spoonfuls of crushed peanuts into simple bhaajis or vegetable curries, such as eggplant-potato or ridge gourd curry and the result is a tasty, thick, luscious sauce for your vegetables.
- Chutneys: Peanuts feature in a variety of chutneys of both the paste and powder varities and having crushed peanuts on hand makes it even easier to pull the chutneys together for breakfasts and brunches.
- Thai dishes: When I make Thai-inspired curries in a sauce that features peanut butter or coconut milk, crushed peanuts make a crunchy topping for the dish.
Making crushed peanuts is the simplest thing. (1) Roast, (2) Remove skins if desired/needed, (3) Grind or crush.
If you buy red-skinned peanuts (the kind sold in Indian stores), roast the peanuts on low heat in a single layer in a heavy skillet. Let the skins get dark spots but don't let the peanuts burn. Let the peanuts cool down, then rub the peanuts lightly between your fingers to remove skins. Separate the peanuts from the skins- an easy way to do this is to blow gently and let the skins fly off but you will have to sweep them up if you do this indoors. Grind using a mixie, a food processor or a spice/coffee grinder. I don't pulverize the peanuts to a fine dust, instead leaving them quite coarse with chunks of peanuts intact. If you don't have any of these appliances, place the roasted peanuts in a sealed paper or plastic bag and thwack them to your heart's content with a heavy saucepan. Of course a mortar and pestle would also do.
If you choose packaged roasted peanuts, the only thing required is to grind them. I have used all of these avatars of peanuts at different times, depending on what was available to me. The flavor of the small Indian peanuts is my what I like best.
Store the crushed peanuts in an airtight container. Mine is a recycled glass mayonnaise jar that you see in the picture. In India, everyone seems to store this at room temperature; I store it in the fridge because (a) I don't go through it fast enough and peanuts can get rancid quickly, and (b) I am slightly paranoid and tend to store stuff in the fridge whether or not it is required.
This weekend's ice cream was chocolate gelato- made with pantry ingredients- milk, cream, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder- with dreamy, stunning results.
I waited several months for tomato season just so I could make Arundati's tamatar ka saalan and it was well worth the wait. We did not pause long enough to take pictures, but give yourself a treat and try this rich curry if tomatoes are in season where you live.
When I spotted this 12 key zen habits poster with fun little reminders, I printed it out right away and pinned it at my desk. I've been practicing #3 for several months now and it is oh so liberating. #2 and #6 are the most challenging. And #10 has never ever been a problem for me although most people I know struggle with it.
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