Some days ago, I asked my mother for ideas for a starter, to serve to guests we had invited to dinner last weekend.
She suggested these peanuts, that are coated in chick pea flour and then fried. As she described how to make them, the memory of having eaten them, long ago when I still lived at home, gradually came back and I remembered that they have a great crispy texture.
I therefore did go along with her suggestion and make them, and was glad I did. Our friends really liked the taste (I gathered from Naveen that this is a Rajasthani recipe and this may explain how my mother knows it since that is where she grew up), as did all the children, especially Noor, and Sarita and Naveen’s two and a half year old Kriti.
The thing I really loved about them is how quick they are to cook !
200 gms of unsalted and grilled or plain peanuts, without the skin
1 small cup – 175 ml measure – of besan (chickpea flour), though you may find you need a little more
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2-1 tsp of kashmiri or other chilli powder (adjust according to your taste)
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of amchur (dry mango powder)- optional
salt to taste
750 ml sunflower oil, to deep fry
Put the oil in a wok/karhai and leave it to heat till it is of a temperature high enough to deep fry without letting it reach smoking point.
In the meanwhile mix the salt and all the spices in to the besan, and rub it through your fingers for a minute to make sure that there are no lumps. Put the peanuts in a bowl, and wash them under running water, draining out any excess. Now add the besan in to this bowl, and coat it well on the peanuts, adding a little bit of water if required but don’t let the besan become at all pasty or runny – it should have the texture and feel of sticky dough.
Take the peanuts in to your hand about 1-2tbsp at a time, and drop them gradually in to the oil, trying to separate them as you go. Now wait till they start to rise to the surface of the oil and then with a slotted frying spoon gently try and separate the peanuts as much as you can by gently pushing at the little clumps that will have formed.
Turn the peanuts over a couple of times and take them out as they start to look crisp while still retaining a yellowish rather than a brown color, and drain the excess oil on absorbent paper. Take care not to let the peanuts brown too much or they – and the besan – will acquire a bitter kind of taste.
These peanuts won’t seem very crisp at first, right after you take them out, but they get a lot crispier after a while, so leave them to cool and then store in an airtight box after they have cooled and acquired the right bite. You can try to separate them some more once they have cooled.
My mother suggests serving these with a sprinkling of chaat masala; I forgot that part on Saturday but everyone enjoyed them anyway.
As a postscript, I would like to add that I made them again yesterday, a much larger quantity this time (500 grams of peanuts). This was for the birthday party of a friend’s daughter this afternoon. And it was gratifying to see them go pretty quick this time too !