After being neglected all it’s life, groundnuts (*Arachis hypogaea*) are gaining momentum in the vegan world for it’s versatile applications just like soy, maybe even better? India is the largest producer of peanuts in the world and grows these protein crops mostly under rain-fed conditions. Groundnuts also serve as the largest oil-seed crop in India. I always make sure to source non-gmo, organic, native peanuts and wooden cold-pressed groundnut oils for our tasty snacks - talk about the classic murukku and bajji.
Anyways how did this less-valued legume make it to the top of vegan food alternatives? If you are from South India, you would have dense childhood memories with peanuts like making countless fudgy peanut burfi during any home celebrations, or sneaking in a kadala mitai (brittle peanut candy) during a boring lecture, or making an instant trail mix with roasted salted peanuts during our outdoor adventures, or just hot steamed masala peanuts on a cool monsoon evening with loved ones at the beach. And if you are from elsewhere, you probably just have sticky peanut butter memories with jelly sandwiches, how sad.
So, as veganism was catching hold of Indian households during the 2010’s, the cost-saving (very Indian) attitude brought out the humble peanuts once again to make anything from milk to curd to paneer and cheeses! Step aside cashews, say hello to our most pocket friendly nut! There sure is a grin on your face when you excitedly purchase some peanuts to rediscover them as various dairy like dishes. Stock up, because it is very addictive!
Now lets see how to make curd out of it! Why? Because, the meal isn’t complete without some damn curd rice bruh! Very South Indian of me to think of only curd while there is a thousand possibilities with peanuts. Well, I can’t help it, it is just too awesome you know. From this curd there is numerous improvisations and recipes that it can be used into. Go crazy!
Ingredients: Peanuts. Um, then? That’s everything.
½ Cup Raw Peanuts - Wash and soak in water for 4 hours.
1 L fresh water.
1 tsp of dairy curd if available already with you or your talkative neighbour aunty.
“Wait, but I am pure vegan and I don’t talk to my neighbours!”. Okay, calm down!
1 probiotics capsule (just the powder inside)
“I can’t afford all these fancy capsules from outer space, it’s not practical to go to a medical shop, you see!” Fine, Whatever!
5 chilli crowns (literally free)
Add the soaked peanuts into a blender. If you don’t have a blender, stop reading and go to sleep.
With just a little water, grind into a smooth paste, then add more water and grind well.
Strain this into a heavy-bottomed pan—absolutely no fibers in the milk.
Mix in the remaining water to the pulp and blend again (a total of 1 Liter is optimal).
Squeeze out as much as possible.
Boil well for 20 minutes, like you would with dairy milk. Keep stirring continuously. Do not move away from the stove. Watch it like a hawk!
When the milk reaches a nice rolling boil, wait for it to bloom to the brim; possibly let it pongify out of the pan as I did. Trust me, this happens to everyone in an Indian Kitchen. No one can defy the law of milk boiling over!
Switch off the heat and leave like that for an hour. This has to be at room temperature while adding in the culture. You'll see fat skin forming on top - an indication of creamy dreamy peanut curd!
When it is at body temperature, gently stir in the curd culture whichever you have (I added the sinful dairy curd from a friend, I am sure going to coagulate in hell).
Mix thoroughly, pour this into an earthen or soapstone curd pot to set overnight. This is the most traditional way to set curd to reap maximum benefits.
If you don’t care about traditional values, dump it into a container and leave it alone.
Tadaa! Your thick set curd is ready in 8 to 10 hours depending on temperature. Now, you can use it like you would with dairy curd. My favourite is to make creamy thayir sadam with soft kuthiraivaali millets and spicy buttermilk. Ugh, I can just live on buttermilk. I do, on hot summer days.
With such a versatile food source, do we still need to milk those poor cows and spoil our health as well? Methinks not. No screams and bad karma, only pure joy and prana! It’s time to evolve into a conscious being while embracing our traditional knowledge. Let there be peace on our plates, and trees on our land.