Congress Kadalekai – Super spicy, roasted and de-skinned groundnuts neatly packed and sold in most bakeries. Redolent of the smell of hing, curry leaves generously thrown in, this is an ever popular snack in South India. Have you ever wondered why it is called as Congress Kadalekai? I have no idea! All I know is that it makes a terrific snack and a wonderful accompaniment to your cup of coffee or tea. Hubby loves these peanuts and doesn't miss an opportunity to buy a packet of congress kadalekai whenever he happens to park within walking distance of a good Iyengar bakery. Often when we wait for our turn at the billing counter of the super-market, he disappears saying he will be back in 5 minutes. I know without asking that he has gone to buy that packet of peanuts and some buttermilk. More often than not, they are very spicy and he does not get beyond eating a small handful as he can’t eat spicy food to save his life!
This is a super simple recipe, the shelled peanuts are roasted and de-skinned, then split into halves - the time consuming and laborious part, specially if you need to make this in large quantities. From then its just a matter of heating a little oil, adding spices and the split peanuts. Honestly, I would normally not have even made an effort to make these at home if hubby had not sighed a little too loudly not being able to savor one of his favorite snacks - thanks to the generous usage of red chilli powder. If you are like me and never even gave a thought about making these at home till today you may want to read the recipe. You may fancy a variation in the taste or you could make your own congress kadalekai if its not available where you live!
Now, there are a couple of more tasty ways to eat these peanuts. Sandwiched between buttered buns and even in your South Indian Style salad - gaadi chaat style. For the first time when I saw the congress kadalekai bun, my reaction was something which the bakery guy would not have loved to see. Weird, I had thought. Then a bite, then yumm...it does taste good after all! The soft bun, the butter, the spiciness and crunch of the peanuts. If you have never eaten this before, you must try!
Peanuts – 2 cups
Oi l - 2 teaspoons
Hing – A generous pinch
Red chilli powder – heaping 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste, mine is less spicy)
Curry leaves – a few
Salt – to taste
Sugar – A tiny pinch
Dry roast the peanuts in a skillet over low heat. Be careful as you do not want them to brown. Cool. De-skin, then split them into two. Heat the oil in the same skillet. When hot, add the curry leaves and the hing. Turn off the heat. When the oil cools to warm, add the red chilli powder. (If you add it when the oil is hot, the chilli powder will burn resulting in a terrible taste and unappealing color) Add the sugar and salt, tip in the peanuts. Mix well. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
You must pop some in your mouth when you carve something spicy or as you watch television or read a book. Why, you don’t really need a reason, do you? If you have never eaten a Congress Kadalekai bun, you may have just another excuse !