First up, let me clear a few things. I have no affiliation with any political party. Thought I am talking about Congress party? That is perhaps the last thing I’ll talk about!
In fact, I am going to indulge you in something way more interesting than that – the quintessential pass-time snack of Karnataka, more so the Bengaluru-Mysuru broad belt. Peanut, fondly called by the locals as “Time pass” Kadalekayi or Badavara Badami Kadalekayi (translates to Poor man’s almond, the peanut) is the star ingredient here.
What’s not to love about peanuts right? They taste good just as they are. Raw, roasted, boiled, any which way. And Congress Kadalekayi happens to be the most popular among the many varieties of spiced peanuts and irresistible of them all. It is amazing what spices can to do to dress up the already popular peanut. Once you’ve eaten it, it is impossible to forget the taste!
Colloquially known as “Congress”, it is one of my all time favorite snacks. Wonder what politics has to do with spiced peanuts, right?
I have been eating this snack all my life never giving much thought to its name. But recently when I wanted to post this recipe, it got me thinking and I found on google, a few theories about why this name was coined. This piece is quite interesting, in case you are curious too.
Whether the name or the theories are or not, the snack is definitely compelling.
One cannot have lived in Mysore/Bangalore areas without eating this super addictive snack. It is so popular that many other snacks and street foods have evolved around it. It is sold in almost all the bakeries including the Iyengar bakeries, Mangalore stores and condiment stores in huge glass jars.
There is a small family owned condiment shop in Mysore near my grand dad’s place which has sold homemade Congress Kadalekayi for over 40 years. Everything they sell like papads, pickles, spice mixes and snacks are made in their own house built adjoining the shop. Our entire neighborhood bought from them for themselves, for their visitors, for those travelling to distant lands or just as edible gifts. Their version is my gold standard and this recipe is inspired by the taste that is etched in my mind for decades.
When we lived in Houston, I would religiously lug a sizable quantity of it during each of my India visits. When the stock got over, I was left craving for the one and only Congress Kadalekayi. Necessity forced me to learn to make it at home. Finally, I am able to share the recipe with all you ardent peanut lovers out there.
More than eating it as is, I like Congress Kadalekayi mixed with puffed rice or Congress Masala or better yet in Churumuri. Now, that is another recipe I must must share.
This is super easy to make. The only part that is time consuming is removing the peanut skins and cleaning them. If you make it ahead of a potluck party, you can make a zillion easy snacks or appetizers revolving around it.
Also, now with the weather being cooler, this makes for perfect snacking – evening cuppa in my hand, sitting on the swing in our balcony, munching on Congress kadalekayi and gazing at the open grey sky and the view outside… It is the small pleasures that count..
What say? So, make it, share it. I know you’ll love it!
Warning: Once you start eating, I bet you won’t stop until it is finished.
Makes about 250 gms
- 1-1/2 cup raw peanuts
- 1-1/2 tbsp filtered peanut oil
- 4 sprigs curry leaves washed and towel dried
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
- 1/4 tsp hing/asafetida
- salt to taste (finely ground in a mortar and pestle), about 1-1/4 tsp
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
Roast peanuts in a heavy bottomed pan on medium flame. When the peanuts begin to sputter, turn the flame to medium-high and stir fry continuously for a few mins until most of them crack open. Take care to not let them burn or smoke.
Let the peanuts cool down a bit on a large plate. When the peanuts are still warm to the touch, throw the roasted peanuts on gunny bag (burlap) and rub well to get the skin off. If not, just rub them between your palms. Discard the skin or use it for composting. Make sure all the peanuts are halved and clean out the peanut tips as well. You'll have about 1-1/4 cups of roasted peanut halves (after eating a few in between cleaning!)
Heat peanut oil in a skillet or kadai on medium. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add curry leaves. When they stop spluttering and are crisp, add hing and turmeric and reduce heat to low to not let turmeric burn. Now add roasted and cleaned peanut halves and stir well for a few minutes to combine.
Lastly add freshly ground black pepper, red chilli powder, amchoor and finely powdered salt and stir for a few mins to coat all the spices evenly. Turn off the heat, add sugar and give it a good stir to mix well. Adjust spices as per your taste if needed.
Let it cool on a plate. Store in a dry air tight container when cooled.
Enjoy with or without your favorite cuppa!
Best used within 2 weeks. Peanuts can even be roasted in an oven.