Monday, October 8, 2018

Growing Peanuts (Groundnuts)

We eat a lot of peanuts, roasted, boiled, blended into paste for curries, sprinkled on stir fries and salads for crunch and much more. My favorite way to eat peanuts by far is the boiled kind. Occasionally we get fresh peanuts at the local Indian grocery store but if you miss the short window when they are available you are out of luck. While the roasted peanuts are pretty affordable the fresh kind is pretty pricey.

Young Plants

So this summer I decided to grow them myself. Not much around 15-20 plants just to see how they grow and if the soil conditions we have around here are suitable for their growth. What do you know? They did pretty well.

Yellow Flowers

Boiled peanuts are not popular in the North East but they are popular in the South. Once we leave the DC suburbs that we live and start driving south, boiled peanut stands dot the sides of the roads during the summer. But taking a trip to the south just for boiled peanuts did not work out as often as we wished. So the next best thing grow them yourself.

Mature plants

While plenty of adults know that peanut is a leguminous plant, most of them have never seen a peanut plant with the cluster of peanuts on the roots and hidden in the ground. For the amount of peanuts we eat pretty much all of us should be familiar with where the peanuts comes from don't you think?

Freshly pulled from the soil

Growing them is not a specialized skill but you need loose soil so you are able to harvest the peanuts easily. Shell the seed peanuts and the seeds that are inside, the ones that we eat are the seeds that go in the ground. Plant them about 1-2 inch deep, cover with soil and water regularly.

Harvested peanuts

In a week or so they sprout. In good warm summer weather they thrive and though this summer has been extremely wet and extremely hot so they did well. I am not sure if our yield was good or not since we have never grown peanuts before.

Red Peanuts!

The peanuts I grew were called "Tennessee Red Valencia Peanut" as the name suggests, fully mature peanuts look red and are 3 or sometimes 4 to a pod. They are excellent with a sweet mild taste. They take about 110 days to mature. They produce small yellow flowers around 40-50 days which self pollinate and fall off just when the peanuts are beginning to form.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tomato Peanut Chutney

Summer rains are a much sought after phenomenon. The parched earth laps it up and cools itself down. But like everything too much of a good thing is also a problem. Last week we were deluged with rains, had a breather for few days and this weeks seems like a wet one again. While this is the time for fruiting, all the excess water makes them get more leaves which is not good for me the farmer. Hopefully the sun will return and the plants can do their thing.

Here is a sample of vegetables that went out on a recent CSA delivery.

Growing food is a hard thing. Bugs, drought, animals which like to gnaw on the fruit, determining when to water when to stop, when to add compost and when not to, when to harvest and when not to. Not that I did not have before but I am only in awe of people who do this for a living. It is frustrating as it is rewarding. There is no comparison to farm(backyard) picked fresh vegetables. Support your local farmer. The job they do is back breaking without a lot of financial benefits. The taste and the quality is going to be rewarding for you to give it a chance.

I like adding peanuts to chutneys. Just enough so it does not overpower the taste of the main ingredient but just enough to give that smooth texture to the chutney.

Tomato Peanut Chutney
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
  1. 4-5 medium sized ripe tomatoes chopped
  2. 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts (skinned or leave the skin on)
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped red onions or shallots
  4. 3-4 dried or fresh red chilies
  5. 1 tbsp frozen or fresh grated coconut (optional)
  6. a few sprigs of coriander leaves
  7. few cumin, coriander and pepper corns, 1 tsp split urad dal
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2-3 tsp of oil

  1. Heat a wide mouthed pan and add about a half tsp of oil, saute the split urad dal(ulutham paruppu), when it starts to brown add the cumin, coriander, pepper corns and the red chilies and saute for a 1/2 minute more and remove to the blender. You can add the red chilies here or with the onions.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and saute the onions till they start to brown.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they get mushy.
  4. Add the coconut if using and the peanuts and saute for a minute more.
  5. Add salt and turn off the heat.
  6. Transfer the contents to the blender and when cool blend to a fairly smooth paste.
  7. Serve with idli, dosai or as a spread for toast.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Spicy Smashed Garlic Roasted Baby Potatoes

Has summer been treating you all well? Looking towards the sky for rain has been my ritual this summer. Can't complain as the rain gods have been pretty alright.

I usually try to grow potatoes during the summer but did not this summer. Having newly grown baby potatoes would have been even better. Garlic and potatoes are a match that can set anybody's taste buds sing with joy. Potatoes can be cooked in several different ways but nothing can beat the taste of roasted potatoes right?. While baby potatoes work best for this recipe, if all you have is bigger potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and proceed with the recipe.

Recipe in pictures,

Wash and boil the potatoes for 8 minutes, drain and cut them in half.
Smash the garlic remove the skin and chop the garlic into fine pieces. Heat the cast iron pan and add oil.
Add the garlic and saute it for a minute. Fish out the garlic if you prefer, add in the potatoes.
Add chili powder and salt and saute till the potatoes are well roasted. Will take about 15 minutes.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 1 lb of baby potatoes both red and yellow
  2. 6 cloves of garlic
  3. 1/2 - 1 tbsp of chili powder (use as much or less as you want, this amount will make it spicy)
  4. salt to taste
  5. 1 tbsp of oil

  1. Wash and cut the potatoes in half, if they are really small leave them whole.
  2. Boil the potatoes for about 8 minutes in total. Not to cook but to just soften them a little bit.
  3. Mash the garlic with the back of a knife and then chop them into smaller pieces.
  4. To a cast iron pan add oil and add in the garlic. let it flavor the oil, you can fish them out and then add the potatoes. (see note:)
  5. Saute the potatoes for another 15 minutes or so till it well roasted. Towards the last few minutes of roasting add the chili powder and salt and saute for a couple more minutes.
  6. Note:Garlic tends to burn quickly so remove them from the heat and add them towards the end. I fished them out towards the middle and added them in the end.

Goes well as a side or an appetizer by itself.

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