Peanuts are ever popular in American culture and are known as ‘goober’ or ‘goober pea’. Goober is a word derived from ‘nguba’ which means peanut in the Bantu language, spoken in parts of Africa. Yet, contrary to what the name implies, peanuts are not nuts, they fall under the legume family. They are available raw, roasted, shelled or unshelled throughout the year. Due to their high protein content and chemical profile, peanuts are processed into a variety of forms, including butter, oil, flour and flakes.
Peanuts grow in a fascinating manner. They start growing as ground flowers but due to their weight bend towards the ground and eventually burrow underground where they mature. The veined brown shell or pod contains two or three kernels. Each oval-shaped kernel or seed comprises two off-white lobes that are covered by a brownish-red skin.
To check the quality of peanuts, pick up each nut and shake it. It should feel heavy and should not rattle since this suggests that the kernels are dry. Also, the shells should be free from cracks, dark spots, mould and insect damage.
Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats and protein. They are rich in antioxidants which are heart-friendly. To lower your risk of cardiovascular and coronary disease, enjoy a handful of peanuts or a tablespoon of nut butter, at least 4 times a week. An ounce of peanuts or peanut butter each week in a meal plan lowers the risk of developing gallstones and gallbladder disease by 25 per cent.
Now, for a recipe.
Celery, chopped: 4 gm
Onion, chopped: 1 (small)
Butter: 25 gm
Flour: 15 gm
Vegetable broth, heated: 250 ml
Peanut butter: 50 gm
A few drops of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Ground peanuts: 75 gm
Method: Sauté the celery and onion in the butter in a large saucepan for 5 minutes. Add the flour, stirring till it is blended. Add the hot broth and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Strain, discarding the solid matter. Return the liquid to the saucepan. Stir in peanut butter, lemon juice and salt. Cook just till heated through, stirring frequently. Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with ground peanuts.
The author is Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara