Precious peanuts

Groundnuts, called peanuts in some other parts of the world are a universal favourite. These have always been on my acclaimed list of affordable specials since childhood. Kadlekai is their familiar nomenclature in Bangalore, where I live. The groundnut fair was recently held in the Bangalore City area, with literally mountainous displays drawing thousands of buyers for this quaint shaped incredibly protein rich oil filled nut in a ridged shell that can be cracked open with the fingers in a jiffy. 

Eat raw if in haste to taste, or boil with the shell or de-shell and roast to one’s preference, with salt and other additions like finely chopped onion, chilli powder, chaat masala etc. and garnish with finely chopped cilanthro/coriander leaves. 

When I invite guests out to the local club, they unblinkingly opt for the ‘peanut masala’ for starters with drinks, on one glance at the menu! 

If one has a sweet tooth, the other option for using the groundnut is to convert it into ‘jignut’ toffee aka chikki which is a speciality in Lonavala, where peddlers come frantically hawking it from compartment to compartment on the railway station during that fleeting stop enroute to Mumbai. Try making it at home. The mix of groundnuts with jaggery has to be just cooked to the perfect consistency to get the crispy crunch. 

And mind those aging teeth, which might just crumble! Peanut butter for which I don’t care, is mouth watering for many, as a lavish spread on bread! To add to its nutrition value, groundnuts provide a rich source for cooking oil to those who choose it as an option over the other varieties on offer.

Till today I enjoy boiled ‘jigs’ as a tea time snack, prepared at home in the pressure cooker and flavoured with a little salt. When I was a kid in Mumbai (then Bombay) I remember the channawallah used to sell them in roasted form for a few paise, from a flat basket hanging around his neck as he peddled them as mumphalli down the streets or sat at a street corner keeping them warm on a pot of coals. 

The container would be a discarded cone shaped page of an old school notebook. Here in Bangalore they’re roasted on coals at roadside corners, and dispensed in similar fashion by peddlers from wooden carts. Must end my piece with the story about peanuts!

One Saturday evening there was a line of schoolboys at the confessional in a church. One by one when confessing other sundry sins they ended with, “Father, I threw Peanuts into the water”. What’s wrong with that, the Father thought to himself. However, he gave each absolution as is the norm, and sent them on their way. When the last boy came along and did not repeat the ‘so called’ transgression like his peers, the priest enquired if he’d not thrown peanuts into the water too? Sadly came the reply, “Father, I am Peanuts!”

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