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Andhra tangy peanut stew (Pachchi pulusu)

Peanuts are common in Indian cuisine and are important as a source of protein in vegetarian diets. Peanuts are usually used in stir-fries as a flavour enhancer or in curries to thicken the sauce. here they are the main character of this dish.

I was curious about this dish after reading the recipe because I could not imagine the flavour of the peanuts and the spice together. So of course I had to try the recipe. This is a recipe that was fabulous. The smooth curry is loaded with the lovely flavour of roasted peanuts that are balanced by the spices. The curry is complex, as is the case with most Andhra cuisine, but not as spicy as we may be led to believe. I had this with dosas and the pairing was beautiful, but it also goes well with rice or chappatis.

Archana Pidathala is an ode to her grandmother's cooking. This book is so much more than a collection of recipes, it brings to my table a history of the cuisine and people. Wonderfully written and with beautiful photographs, this cookbook fills a gap in my bookshelf in a cuisine that I know very little about.

For more delicious, and spicy, dishes from this cookbook, click here.


For the stew:

1 cup roasted peanuts (see note below)

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, dry roasted till aromatic and lightly golden

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons chilli powder, or to taste

2 tablespoons tamarind extract

1 + 3 cups cup water

1 tablespoon jaggery

1 onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, cut into circles

Note: If you are using raw peanuts, add them to a frying pan and roast till aromatic and browned, about 3-4 minutes. Cool completely. Rub them between your hands to remove any skin. As an additional cheat you can use roasted peanut butter.

For the temper:

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon split black (urad) dal

1 tablespoon split Bengal (chana) dal

2-3 dried red chillies

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

15 curry leaves

Add all the ingredients, except the onions and green chillies, for the stew to a small blender with 1 cup water and blend till very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Check by rubbing the sauce through your index finger and thumb to make sure the paste is absolutely silken.

Heat the oil in a pot. Add the mustard seeds and fry for 10 seconds till they splutter. Add all the other ingredients for the temper and stir well. Fry for 30 seconds. Add the peanut sauce, onions, green chillies, and the rest of the water. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Be careful, the peanuts stew will stick to the bottom of the pan, so stir the pot continually scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula. Cook for 4-5 minutes till the stew has thickened. Taste for salt and tanginess from the tamarind. Adjust as needed.

Serve hot with dosas or rice.

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