Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Favorite Kitchen Tool

When it comes to kitchen gadgets and tools, I find one-function use items quite cluttering. My kitchen is stocked with tools that get used more or less on a regular basis - a George Foreman grill, my beloved Ronald food processor and mixer, a small ice-cream maker for the hubs, and a not-so-techy stone mortar-pestle set. The last one being my ultimate favorite - as I mentioned herehere and here. If the world of technology were ever to crumble down, I would survive just fine in my kitchen with the use of my mortar and pestle (and that's about it :D).

Our ancestors have used mortar-pestles to grind and crush plant roots, leaves etc since the Vedic ages. But even with the passage of time and technological advances, we continue using them. I remember using/seeing various stone tools such as Pata-varvanta (batan) and Jaata (grain grinder) as a kid. While those are pretty obsolete now, mortar and pestle (called Khal-batta in Marathi) still get used every day to grind spices, ginger-garlic or green chilies-cilantro in my kitchen. All the women in my house wholeheartedly believe that anything ground in the mortar tastes different (and by that, I mean way better). It is true, because the pounding gets the oils in your food out in a way a mixy just can't. So even though it takes a little time and some muscle work, I prefer my good old mortar-pestle for certain things. Especially when it comes making chutneys! I love the rustic, un-even coarseness and the complete marriage of flavors mortar-pestle can achieve.

I made one of my most favorite (yes, I say that about a lot of things) chutneys the other day to go with savory Ghavan - Maharashtrian Shengdana chutney (peanut chutney). Now, there are several versions of this chutney - with or without garlic, coconut or sesame seeds. My favorite version is garlicky, slightly moist with very lightly roasted peanuts. This chutney reminds me of some of the funnest memories from childhood - mom would pack me a sandwich with generous spread of fresh butter and chutney, or roll parathas sprinkled with it, or mix some rice-batata bhaji-daal-chutney, as filling and easy to eat lunches. Shengdana chutney is extremely versatile and tastes great when mixed with some yogurt to go with roti or rice. Oh, there's nothing more comforting!


Shengdana Chutney - Maharashtrian Peanut Chutney

Ingredients:
1 Cup peanuts
3 Garlic cloves
1 Teaspoon tamarind concentrate/pulp
2 Teaspoons red chili powder (adjust according to taste)
Sugar to taste (I used ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Salt to taste

  • Lightly roast peanuts in a pan on low heat. I roast them just enough to get the skin off. Let them cool and peel the skin. I find taking a handful of peanuts and rubbing them between palms the easiest way to remove the skin. Then simply fan the skin lightly to separate the nuts from the peels. 
  • Grind garlic cloves in mortar-pestle first so you don't end up with big chunks of it. 
  • Add peanuts, tamarind pulp, red chili powder and grind coarsely. 
  • Add sugar and salt and find the perfect combination of spicy-salty-tangy-sweet for you and grind slightly to mix everything well. 
The chutney will store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

What is your favorite kitchen tool and how do you use it?

5 comments:

Priyanka said...

Couldn't agree with you more! I too recently got a mortar and pestle. Found typical maharashtrian stone khal batta at Home goods! Now I grind fresh garam masala and ginger garlic paste for every recipe! *bliss*

Snehal said...

That's awesome. I got mine at Ikea. It's small, but does the work.

Jenny (vintagesugarcube) said...

I've never had a peanut based chutney and it sounds soooo good! Embarrassingly I don't own a mortar and pestle. I think it's darn time I get one. :)

Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence said...

The mortar and pestle is one of my favorite tools as well! I have a smaller one that I like to use for pulverizing garlic or grinding small amounts of spices.

Snehal said...

Jenny..this chutney has a very unique taste.Give it a shot. And yeah...I can't live without my mortar and pestle.
Brandon..don't you just love the aroma of spices when they're pulverized the old fashioned way?! also I make guacamole in mine all the time.

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