CRUNCHY MUNCHIES WHEN CRISPY, CHUTNEY IF THEY SOFTEN

Travelling from my home town to my workplace one weekend, I had packed 250 grams of groundnuts (also called peanuts, though there are subtle yet complicated differences between the two) for myself. A week passed by before I thought to munch on them. No sooner had I cracked open the outer shell and popped a few nuts into my mouth, than I realised that they had lost their crispiness and had softened. Equally repulsive are groundnuts/ peanuts in such softened state, as delightful they are to munch on when they are crunchy!

Just as I felt disappointed for not having been able to savour the nuts, an idea occurred to me – one of my Mom’s favourite quick-to-make-easy-to-store recipes!

Peanut Chutney (called as Chinabadam Chatuni in Odia – the ‘i’ of Chinabadam pronounced as the ‘i’ of ‘ink’ and not as the ‘i’ of ‘China’) is a common side dish in Odisha, though it is equally or more of a South Indian delicacy.

So then, I sprang into action. Peeling 250 grams of groundnuts cannot be accomplished in a jiffy, but once done you’ll realise how they succeeded in teaching you a lesson in patience for a good fifteen to twenty minutes!

Once I was done with the peeling, I gathered the other ingredients that were required. One medium sized onion (peeled, washed and sliced into 4-6 parts), 5-6 pods of garlic (peeled and washed), 1 inch of a ginger stem (peeled, washed and sliced into two parts), two green chillies (washed and destemmed) and salt to taste.

In went all the ingredients into the mixie with a little water.

It takes just a couple of minutes for all the ingredients to mix and blend well and come to the desired consistency. It should neither be too stiff, nor too watery.

With this done, I emptied the chutney into a bowl and set to prepare the seasoning.

For the seasoning, I took 3-4 teaspoons of mustard oil (refined oil can be used too) in a tadka pan (a serving spoon with a long handle or any other vessel can be used as well) and set it on the gas stove with low to medium flame. As the oil warmed up, to it I added half a teaspoon of mustard seeds, 8-10 fresh curry leaves and 1 dry red chilli broken into two. Just as the mustard seeds crackled, I turned off the flame and immediately poured the hot seasoning into the bowl of chutney and mixed well.

I tasted a spoonful and it was yummy!

Peanut Chutney can be a delicious addition to a rice meal or can be had with hot chapattis/parathas/idlis/dosas/vadas/upma. For those with a penchant for spicy food, the number of chillies can be increased. Adding a few drops of lemon juice would give it a tangy taste.

Also, it depends whether or not you want to peel off the thin pinkish cover on the groundnuts after peeling off the outer hard cover or want them to stay. I personally prefer to retain them as they add to the fibre content of the nuts.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for a week at the most; it begins to ferment and spoil if kept at room temperature for more than a day. However, it is wise to make it in a quantity sufficient for one meal, if for a family or for guests.

It’s easy to make without much of a hassle with ingredients that are easily available in the kitchen without any special buys.

The next time you feel some stuff in your kitchen is not fit for consumption in the usual way (not referring to spoilt or rotten ones), think of other ways in which it can be consumed before taking to the last resort of disposing it off!

P.S. If groundnuts gain moisture and lose their crispiness, peel the hard outer cover and dry roast the nuts. Allow them to cool to room temperature and then transfer to an air-tight container. They’ll stay crispy for many days and you can munch them at leisure.