Indian Peanut Chutney Recipe
I served khichdi (Indian masoor dal rice) this evening for dinner. Instead of using the usual Indian yogurt sauce called raita, I made peanut sesame chutney, called "til chutney" in Urdu. It's a little time consuming but it pairs perfectly with the coral-colored lentils and rice. To make the sauce, peanuts and sesame seeds are ground into a fine powder. They provide richness to the sauce that is complemented by the sweet-acid flavor of tamarind and the kick of raw onions. Baghar is the finishing touch in this dish, as it is in a lot of Indian dishes.
This dish was passed down to me from my husband Lulu’s late grandmother. Everyone referred to her as Baji. She taught me several Indian recipes from the region of Hyderabad, and I have an entire notebook of her recipes that I have to get translated. I’ll post them here as I try them out, so stay tuned!
Yields: 1 scant pint¼ cup unsalted raw peanuts, with skin
1-½ tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (see tips)
½ teaspoon superfine sugar (or granulated sugar), optional
1 tablespoon canola oil (or any neutral oil)
4 whole dried red chiles (stemmed), to taste
1 clove garlic, cut into long, thin slivers
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1-½ tablespoons white onion, thinly sliced
Dry toasting the peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds:
In a pan, dry toast the peanuts over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool completely. Remove the skin.
Repeat the same procedure with sesame seeds and coconut powder until slightly golden (about 2 minutes).
Making peanut flour and sesame powder:
Grind the peanuts in a blender or a grinder (I use a coffee grinder that I keep exclusively for my spices). The peanuts should turn into a fine mill, but make sure you stop before it becomes nut butter.
Repeat the same procedure with the toasted sesame seeds.
Making dry peanut chutney:
In a bowl, combine the ground peanuts, ground sesame and coconut powder. Season with red chili powder and salt.
In a small saucepan, heat a scant cup of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar and tamarind purée. Let cool completely.
Add the dry peanut chutney to the liquid and whisk well.
This step is called baghar: When you're ready to serve, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a small saucepan (I use a small 0.3-quart saucepan that I use exclusively for baghar). Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and whole dried red chiles. As the garlic gets golden, add the cumin seeds. The cumin seeds will start popping in the hot oil. As the garlic blackens, immediately transfer the hot oil and spices to the bowl of chutney. Add the raw white onion and cover the bowl with a lid.
You could add more dried red chiles at the end for a bright red color contrast.
Serve at room temperature with khichdi.
I buy raw peanuts at the Asian store. It's important to pick peanuts with the skin on; that way they don't burn while being dry-toasted.
I can find coconut powder in Indian and Asian stores.
I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained sugar and it dissolves much more quickly than the regular granulated kind.
You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It has a nice tart flavor. You can also use fresh tamarind pods if you like but I find this to be labor intensive. Wash about a pound of tamarind pods, with the skin still on. Boil them in about 4 cups of water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and discard the liquid. Shell, seed and remove the fibrous membrane. Blend the tamarind pulp with about 1-1/2 cup of water. But as I've said before, I just prefer eating fresh tamarind as is and cooking with tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder.
You can find the rest of the ingredients in most Indian stores.Published By: on May 12, 2010.