Category: Peanuts

In Season: Asparagus with Buckwheat Noodles

Houston has spring like weather since third week of February. That means the beginning of planting season. I had been in the garden, cleaning the garden beds, starting seedlings and planting vegetable plants. Kind of lost in spring sunshine, and who can resist the spring charm?

Spring means asparagus is in season. I bought a bunch of tender asparagus last weekend and prepared a Thai inspired Buddha’s bowl for today’s meal. A complete vegetarian one-pot meal with asparagus and buckwheat (soba) noodles in homemade sweet and sour peanut sauce. You can of course, buy ready-made sauce but the sauce is easy to prepare at home using the ingredients that are already in pantry and that’s what I did. Buckwheat noodles which are prepared from buckwheat flour have a unique texture and flavor that I enjoy. With fresh asparagus and in flavorful sauce, it was a nutritious, filling Buddha’s bowl. Imagine PF Chang’s restaurant but without all the hoopla and waiting to get a table.

Asparagus with Buckwheat Noodles
(serves 4)

    12 ounces of buckwheat (soba) noodles
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 cup, shallots or red onion, cut into matchstick length thin strips
    2 cups, fresh asparagus, cut into matchstick length pieces
    2 cups carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
    2 cups unripe, green papaya, cut into thin matchsticks
    1 cup, fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    1/2 cup, roasted pistachios or peanuts
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    For the sweet-sour peanut sauce:
    1/4 cup, roasted, unsalted peanuts
    2 teaspoons, chilli flakes
    1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
    1 tablespoon, palm or cane jaggery pieces
    1/4 teaspoon, sea salt
    Add the above in a mixer and blend to creamy, smooth sauce.

1. Cook the buckwheat noodles according to the instructions on the package, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

2. Heat sesame oil in a wok or wide pan until hot. Add onions, asparagus, carrot and green papaya. Saute for 10 minutes, turning frequently, until the vegetables are tender and browned.

3. Add the sweet and sour peanut sauce to roasted vegetables. Sprinkle salt and quarter cup of water. Simmer on low heat for five minutes.

4. Toss in the buckwheat noodles and stir coat them in the sauce. Heat through for two minutes and then spoon into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle cilantro, pistachio and little bit lemon juice on top and serve immediately.

Asparagus with Soba Noodles
Asparagus with Buckwheat Noodles ~ Under Spring Sunshine

Variation: Use whole-wheat or rice noodles instead of buckwheat noodles, if you wish.

Chikkudu Vittanaala Kura for Sankranthi

Chikkudu (Telugu) also known as papdi lilva (Hindi) is a type of broad bean from India. The tasty pods and plump seeds are culinary delight and part of the menu on Sankrathi festival in our part of Andhra.

The photographed chikkudu are from my garden. I shelled those seeds last month just before the onset of freezing temperatures. With that hearty harvest, it was a glorious goodbye to plentiful 2010-growing season.

Broadbeans, Chikkudu Vittanaalu
Indian Broadbean Seeds (Chikkudu Vittanaalu, Papdi Lilva)

Chikkudu Vittanaala Kura (Chikkudu Seeds Kurma)
(for 2 to 4, for 2 to 1 meal)

Chikkudu Seeds: 3 cups. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add half teaspoon of salt to water. To the boiling water, add the chikkudu seeds. Partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside the seeds.

Masala Paste: In a skillet, toast a cup of unsalted peanuts. Cool and remove the peanut skins.
In the same skillet, add 1/4 teaspoon each – cumin seeds and black peppercorn, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, 4 cloves and one inch piece of cinnamon stick. Toast to fragrance on low heat constantly stirring. Cool.
Take roasted peanuts in a mixer. Add the toasted spices and also 1×1-inch piece of fresh ginger, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp and 2 tablespoons of crushed jaggery. Add quarter teaspoon of salt. Blend everything together into fine paste. Add half cup of water for easy blending.

Chikkudu Seeds Kura: In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Do the cumin tadka.
Add the chikkudu seeds and masala paste. Add about a cup of water. Season with quarter teaspoon each – turmeric, chili powder and salt. Mix well. Taste for salt, spice and sweetness, and adjust to your liking. Cover and simmer the kura on medium heat for at least ten minutes, until the seeds have reached buttery texture.

Serve warm with rice or roti. For Sankrathi festive meal experience, serve the kura with pongali or sajje rotte with some ghee and pickle on the side.

Chikkudu Seeds Kura
Chikkudu Seeds Kura with Chapati and Lemon Pickle ~ Meal on a Cold Day

Beach Snack ~ Boiled Peanuts

Bottlenose Dolphins in Galveston Bay
Bottlenose Dolphins in the Galveston Bay

Last weekend, we went to Galveston, a small island in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s about an hour drive from my home. We spent time watching bottlenose dolphins and on the sea on a free ferry ride. The weather was balmy and the beaches were crowded. Still it was fun, thanks to brief rain and cooling breeze. I packed some boiled peanuts to snack. Shell and eat, within minutes they were gone. Salty and succulent, they were the perfect snack for a beach day. Being from the India, I think we are destined to crave boiled peanuts.:) They are very addictive.

Boiled Peanuts
Boiled Peanuts ~ for a Beach Day

For those of you, who would like to engage your tastebuds in a salty succulence with delicious boiled peanuts, here is the recipe.

    2 pounds, raw, fresh peanuts
    2 tablespoons, sea salt
    Big pot or pressure cooker and a colander

Wash peanuts in plenty of water. Take them in a pressure cooker. Add salt and enough water to cover them.
Close the lid and on medium-low heat, pressure-cook the peanuts to tender. Slow cooking produces excellent results with soft and salty peanuts.
Pour the cooked peanuts in a colander and drain the water. Cool for few minutes.
Break open and enjoy the tasty boiled peanuts. Yum!

Gongura Peanut Pachadi

Thanks to the frequent rains this summer, my gongura plants are thriving. In fact, there is a surplus of fresh gongura leaves and that allows me experiment some new recipes. You know the peanut chutney in which we add tamarind or lemon juice to perk up the pachadi? I thought why not replace them with fresh gongura leaves. Gongura’s tangy taste should be a perfect compliment to nutty peanuts. It has turned out a good recipe with gongura.

Fresh Gongura Leaves
Gongura Madi

Gongura Peanut Pachadi

    1 tablespoon, peanut oil
    2 garlic cloves, skin peeled and chopped coarsely
    1 red onion or shallots – coarsely chopped, about a cup
    6 to 8, fresh or dried chillies, Indian variety
    Fresh gongura leaves – about 6 cups, tightly packed
    Roasted, shelled, skinned, unsalted peanuts – 3/4 cup
    1/2 teaspoon, salt (or to taste)

1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. When oil is hot, add garlic, onion and chillies. Saute to soft brown. Remove them into a cup.

2. In the same skillet, stir in the gongura leaves. It will seem an enormous quantity but the leaves reduce rapidly to less than half the volume. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. If the gongura is very fresh, the mixture will be juicy. Remove the cover and continue to cook until the water has evaporated, for another two to three minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

3. In a blender or mortar, take the peanuts. Add salt. Grind or pound into a fine powder. Add the cooked onion-gongura mixture to peanut powder. Stir in half cup of water. Blend the ingredients to smooth pachadi. Remove to a cup.

Gongura-peanut pachadi tastes good with breakfast items, rice or roti.


Gongura-Peanut Pachadi with Ponganalu ~ for Meal Today

WV8,9 and 10 ~ Spicy Peanut Butter

Gundu Malli (Jasmine) from Backyard
Gundu Malli (Jasmine) from Backyard

Weekend (day 8 and day 9) went by so fast with sightseeing, shopping trips and the festival (Nagula Chavati). Foodwise, I stuck to the Workout Vratham and filled the belly with an assortment of beans, greens, vegetables and fruits. I had two sesame laddus that we traditionally prepare for Nagula Chavati festival. The sesame laddus were made in a mortar with pestle power.

On day 10, that is today, here it went my sucky routine:)

Morning:
A cup of ragi ganji without sweetener

Noon:
A cup of Chard pappu (Chard with Toor dal)
Half cup of Turai curry (beerakaya kura)
A big bowl of hot tomato rasam
Half apple

Evening:
A cup of ginger tea without sweetener
Handful of roasted peanuts

Night:
2 pesarattu with generous helping of spicy peanut butter
Half cup chard pappu
A glass of buttermilk

Workout:
An hour of 4 miles walk, an hour of step plus abs class at the gym – morning
Sewing pillow covers – evening

In Retrospect:
Glad to return to week day routine.

Spicy Peanut Butter ~ India Inspired

Ingredients:

1 cup shelled, good quality peanuts
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves, 1-inch piece of cinnamon
6 dried red chillies
2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp
1-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Preparation:

Heat an iron skillet. Add and roast peanuts, continuously stirring with a spatula on medium heat to uniform pale brown color . It would take about 10 to 15 minutes of roasting time. Transfer the peanuts from skillet to a plate and wait until they are cool to touch. Rub and remove the skin coverings.

In the same skillet, add dried red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. Toast to fragrance. Cool.

Take roasted peanuts and toasted spices in a blender or food processor. Add salt, tamarind pulp and ginger. Grind until fairly smooth. Add few tablespoons of water if necessary for easy mixing. You could also add a tablespoon of sugar or jaggery for subtle sweet touch. Remove and store in a jar. Stays fresh upto a week when refrigerated.

Spicy peanut butter tastes great with breakfast items. It also makes a fine dip and spectacular Indian-inspired sauce for vegetables like bell peppers, broad beans (Chikkudu), brinjals and potatoes.

Spicy Peanut Butter ~ India Inspired
Spicy Peanut Butter for Jihva:Peanuts at Pavani’s Cook’s Hideout

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

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