Raw peanuts are used in Chinese cooking to add flavour and a crunchy texture and are especially popular when marinaded or added to Stir fry dishes. They can be bought at health food shops good supermarkets and Chinese grocers. The thin red skins need to be removed before you use the nuts. To do this simply immerse them in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes . Drain them and let them cool and the skins will come off easily.
Peanuts are widely used in Maharashtrian and Guiarati cookery and are especially significant in religious feasts. Hindus worship the elephant headed god Ganesha first in every ritual. He signifies perfect balance for although he is plump and loves food he is an exquisite dancer. The birthday of Ganesha falls around the beginning of September and is elaborately celebrated with special food. Completely vegetarian it features ground peanuts leafy root vegetables pulses and coconut. Peanuts are also a favourite indian snack: Bombays beaches are full of vendors selling small paper cones of warm roasted peanuts liberally sprinkled with salt.
Buying and storingThey are available as fresh pods (though these are difficult to find) which can be boiled in salted water and peeled. They are also available in the pod or shelled roasted dried skinned tried with or without batter. When buying dried packed ones look for plump whole nuts. Old peanuts become rancid over a length of time so finish off all bought stock within 3 months.
Culinary usesIn western India they are powdered crushed or used whole with vegetables and pulses. They complement the flavours of sesame seeds and leafy vegetables. Try them with spinach potatoes or lentils. Roughly crush them and add to hot oil. Fry until they just begin to change colour then add the rest of the ingredients. They also add volume and taste to stuffings. Batter fried peanuts make a good pre dinner snack with beer or punch. Peanuts are also used for making sweets. Brittle or chikki made of peanuts jaggery and cardamom is popular. Peanut oil is the most common cooking medium in India.