“Mom! There isn’t enough Peanud Budd-r in my sandwich!” wailed my cousin from across the room. “Peanud budder? What’s that?” I wondered, taking a minute off from the exciting task of trying out my cousin’s walkie-talkie while he was busy with his breakfast. The year was 1992 and I was a pony-tailed 8 year-old. It was my cousin’s first trip to India from the US where they lived, and he was complaining about his sandwich.
This was the first time I was meeting them. They’d come down from the US and observing my cousins, their eating habits and talking style and meddling with their fascinating toys was big entertainment for me! It was also the first time I’d heard of the now common kiddo-friendly peanut butter.
I walked over to the kitchen, putting the walkie-talkie aside to figure out what he was eating. My aunt was applying a generous layer of a brownish creamy thing on slices of bread and offered one to me. I cautiously took a bite, thinking it would taste just like butter. And what a unique flavour hit my tongue!
Although I did like the stuff, I wasn’t too taken in – the creamy, peanutty, sugary taste was alien to my taste buds that were more attuned to sour tomato ketchup and the coriander-laced chutneys that my mum spread on my bread. Sandwich was supposed to be salty with salted Amul butter and slices of tomato and cucumber between two slices of bread, not something sweet like this!
Thanks to my cousins, I also got to hear of something they called Pizza! An aunt of theirs who had an oven at home invited them over one day to treat my cousins to their favourite snack, which wasn’t available anywhere in India back then. “It was ok, but it wasn’t like pizza back at home (in the US),” my cousin announced when they got back from their aunt’s.
Now, of course, peanut butter and the pizza is a regular routine at most homes with kids. Forget order-ins and store-bought pizza bases, people even make their own dough at home. I’m a big fan of both these global imports and I find the peanut butter a handy thing to have at home at all times – to satiate sudden midnight cravings, to prepare a quick sandwich for the nephews whenever they come over or to fill into chocolate cookies for the wonderful contrast in both, taste and colour!
But today, what I have for all of you isn’t the usual sweet peanut butter. This is a spicy version of the same that comes from the addition of red chillies. So, other peanut fans like me, and those who prefer their sandwich spicy, do try this!
Spicy Peanut Butter
Roasted peanuts (papery skin removed) – ½ cup
Dry red chillies – 2
Coriander leaves (chopped) – 1 tbsp
Oil/water – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Grind the peanuts and red chillies into a coarse powder
Add coriander leaves and water/oil and grind till the mixture is well blended and creamy enough to your liking
Note: If you use water, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, while oil will help preserve it for a week. Use oil and cut out coriander altogether to store it for longer
You can vary the quantity of red chillies and coriander leaves to your taste. You could also use other herbs like mint or basil