What our farmers eat is by default connected to the seasons and locally grown produce. Our traditional farmers have not fallen prey to the packaged food industry yet, atleast in the remote villages of our country for their own eating habits. Their meals consist of traditional grains, green leafy vegetables, hot broths or cool infusions depending on the weather and a spicy condiment. Most recipes are super simple, straightforward.
Roasted peanuts and side dishes using peanuts as the core ingredient are a regular part of the meal, especially for farmers from west India - Maharashtra, Karnataka. A hand pounded peanut chutney is a delicious blend of roasted peanuts pounded with palate tickling spices like red chilli powder, natural cumin and a natural rock salt. When these ingredients are pounded together, the salty taste merges with the natural oils during the crushing. The salt also acts as a preservative for this simple dish.
The TBOF hand pounded peanut chutney consists of delicious flavours and equally amazing textures. This adds a wholesomeness to any meal, be it simple or elaborate. A nice fat jar of this chutney comes in very handy as it can be added to so many dishes to add an extra zing for visual and taste appeal.
Let’s start by looking at some of our favourite comfort foods!
Who can say no to a heartwarming dish of different lentils, legumes and pulses boiled and flavored with a delicious tempering of seeds, herbs and spices? Eaten with a liberal dousing of sweet and spicy chutneys, this typical Maharashtrian dish is just heavenly with some hot buttered pav bread to dunk into all that heartiness!
Traditionally this dish is accompanied by fried sev , chakli or any family favourite farsan. This adds texture and offers a complete balance in taste.
The taste buds are on a merry dance with sweet, tangy, spicy, buttery, chewy and crunchy elements popping away in every corner. A generous heaped spoonful of the hand pounded peanut chutney will only further elevate this already cracker of a dish! The roasted peanuts add plenty of fibre and nutrition to this wonderful protein rich meal. The muscles are well cared for and ready for a good workout!
Bisi Bele Bhath
A bisibele bhath is soul food. Grains of rice are cooked to a satiny mush along with the pigeon pea lentils made into an aromatic sambar. The authenticity of this dish lies in the special spice powder which is added to give it a fantastic explosion of lip smacking tastes. The addition of ghee is done in a generous manner to help in the breaking down of the protein in the lentils during digestion.
Each home has its own version of this iconic recipe. The choice of vegetables which go in range from country favorites like small onions, drumstick and brinjal to the more hill-grown beauties like carrots and beans.
Instead of having an appalam or papad accompaniment, add in a cup full of the hand roasted peanut chutney. Peanuts and rice are an amazing combination. Every mouthful of this spicy, rich bisi bele bhath will be relished more with the added nuttiness of the coarse peanut chutney.
As the discs of dough begin to heat up on a hot iron tawa, the golden spots of deliciousness begin to appear to signal that the paratha is ready to be served. A quick smearing of butter or ghee and this deliciously stuffed Indian bread is one of the best meals to indulge in this time of year.
The stuffing changes based on family favourites. There is a grated radish stuffing, cauliflower masala, the famous aloo paratha, made with the freshest green peas of the season; each one delicious with whole spices and spice powders.
If nothing else, all it needs on the side is a cup of delicious curd and some achaar. To give a bit of a twist to this pairing, try adding a few tablespoons of the hand pounded peanut chutney to the curd and giving it a good mix. Taste and add more if you like it a bit spicier.
Make small parathas and top it with a dollop of the curd and peanut mixture and the family will literally go ‘nuts’ at the deliciousness of this combination! It can make for an interesting starter or even as a tea time snack. Of course it can just as easily be served with regular sized parathas as part of the main meal, the options are varied.
Mini Masala Idli
Mini idlis are a popular breakfast for school going kids. It is quick to pick up and eat and also makes for a delicious snack or lunch box special.
A simple but flavour rich tempering with desi ghee, elevates this staple into the treat category. The deep iron kadhai is heated up and the belly is moistened generously with a tablespoon of ghee, the first set of ingredients; mustard seeds, curry leaves and chopped shallots are added. Once it is sauteed to a deliciously golden colour, spice powders are spooned in to add that eye popping ,palate tingling yummy quotient.
The hand pounded peanut chutney is the perfect addition to this ‘no fail’ tempering. The soft melt-in-the-mouth idli rounds with the sweet stickiness of the ghee infused onions and the full on hit of the spice coated peanuts is absolutely marvellous.
It is a dish which is easy to digest, can be eaten either hot or at room temperature and is extremely nourishing. What an easy way to add interest to a simple meal.
Mixed Vegetable Soup
Hot bowls of comforting soup have become a part of the Indian diet for so many decades. A thick creamy soup made with the season’s best produce and hearty spices offers so much comfort. As the elders say, it “warms the bones”.
Loaves of crusty homemade bread, toasted and coated with dollops of desi butter offers so much comfort and cheer for a family meal. The richness of the soup depends on the flavours which go into a base stock. A stock is simply adding whole spices like cloves, bay leaves to a pot of simmering water along with some garlic, ginger, onion, stalks of fresh herbs like coriander and also unused tops of vegetables like radish , carrots, pea skins, potato peels, sweet potato skins, pumpkin etc. When the water reduces by half, the resultant broth is high in flavour.
Some soups are heavily infused with milk or cream while others are light and clear with finely chopped vegetables. Garnishes for soups have become very popular in the past decade because it gives an added nutrition to this one dish meal.
Adding slivers of toasted garlic, finely chopped herbs, chilli and herb oils, toasted nuts etc are ways to bring a soup alive from being mundane to something quite fancy. A bowl of creamy carrot or pumpkin or potato and leek soup with a heaped serving of the hand roasted peanut chutney, right in the middle of the bowl adds a great deal of visual drama and a tasty crackle with every satiny spoon full.
When food is plated with specific intent, it also ensures that the meal is savoured and not gulped down hastily. No matter what we eat, the benefits are felt when each bite is savoured to the fullest.
Add the hand pointed farmer’s peanut chutney to your list of buys. It will guarantee that meal times will bring about more such fun experimentations.