Peanut Salad (Peanut Sundal)

IMG_1747Festival season of India just went by but, when you are in North America you hardly notice it. That is not to say I don’t miss it, especially Navratri – Nine nights of festivities that marks the celebration of goddess Durga and all her various forms as Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (Goddess of learning and education). It is celebrated all over India with a lot of grandeur. In the south of India, it is customary for women to invite other women to their houses for Kolu – a colorful arrangements of dolls each set to a unique theme. There is an exchange of beetle nut leaf, coconut, and bangles. As a child I remember my mom taking my sister and me to several of these. My pet complain about this particular festival was the food! Every house that we visited had some form of Sundal – a salad made from some sort of lentils or beans – the official food of Navratri. I would cringe at the thought of eating the same lack luster food for nine days! Each night after all our visits and sundal eating we would sit and compare sundals. ‘Oh that was so under seasoned’ or ‘The blackeyed peas at Vijaya’s house could have been cooked a little bit more’.

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Now in Canada, and after many years, I miss the whole nine yards of Navratri, the gaggle of women in colourful Kancheevaram sarees and the scent of fresh jasmine flowers that adorn their hair. Funnily I also miss Sundal! Over the years, and after many many bad sundals I have come up with my own variation that I have come to love. It may not be traditional, and I can see the collective nod of disapproval from the Tamil Brahmin community, but I love it and make it all year long not just for Navratri.

You can eat this salad warm or straight out of the refrigerator and is a wonderful dish for picnics.

IMG_1739 Ingredients 

  • 11/2 cup raw peanut soaked over night
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 mango diced
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • 1 spring onion chopped finely
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ inch ginger grated
  • 2 slit green chilly
  • Salt to taste

Seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • A pinch of asafoetida (Hing)
  • 4-5 curry leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the peanut, it should take about 40 minutes to an hour. I choose to pressure cook it, giving about 5 whistles.

Drain the peanut in a large bowl, add coconut, pomegranate, raw mango, carrot, spring onion, chilly and ginger

In a small pan heat the oil and add mustard seed to it, when it begins crackle add urad dal, pinch of asafetida and curry leaves. When the urad dal turns red turn off the heat and pour the seasoning on the peanut mixture.

Add the juice of 1 lime to this mixture and garnish with finely chopped coriander before serving.

Spiced Nut & Cranberry Mix

For a long time now I have been experimenting with all kinds of spiced nut mix recipes and I stow away any good recipe I can get my hands on. They are perfect with a hot cup of chai or a cold glass of beer and also a great snack to refuel after a workout. This time around I wanted to make some for a 4 day road trip that Vivek and me are planning on taking over the Christmas weekend, although I am not sure it’ll last that long.

While I was rummaging through my recipe book, I found this – the cover of a spiced nut and cranberry mix that I had bought at the Muskoka store. They were wonderfully sweet, tart and spicy and I had stashed away the cover thinking I would try it later.

I guess it was about time I whip up a batch. It was super easy to make and you can substitute the spices as you like. All you need is about 5 cups of assorted nuts and cranberries, an egg and a bunch of spices and about 15-20 minutes in the oven.

In the past I have also tried some other wonderful combinations inspired by some of my favourite Food Network hosts.

Spiced Nuts by Chef at Home, Michael Smith; The Union Cafe’s Bar Nuts by Nigella Lawson and I also love Ina Garten’s Chipotle and Rosemary roasted nuts in the December issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This addictive and wonderfully delicious Spiced Nut and Cranberry mix will be definite feature in the edible gift basket that I have been working on for a few of my friends this holiday season. More on that later.

We polished off more than half of this even before we got to packing it for our trip.

Spiced Nut & Cranberry Mix

Makes about 5 cups

Spiced Nut Cranberry Mix recipe

    • 1 cup dried sweet cranberries
    • 1 cup almonds
    • 1 cup cashews
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 1 cup walnuts
    • 2-4 tablespoon brown sugar (you need enough sugar to cramelize in the oven)
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 egg white
    • salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Grease and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg white along with all the other spices.Add the nuts and cranberries and toss till all the nuts are uniformly coated in the spice mixture.
Spread the nuts in one layer on the lined sheet pan.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown.
Sprinkle the warm nuts with a little more salt and set aside to cool.
Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers.