Spicy peanuts


Hold onto your hats. These puppies are yummy. If they manage to sit around your house for more than a day, I salute you. We scarfed ours down. We made ourselves ill, actually. And after we made ourselves ill we then ate the rest of them. My dashing husband has asked me not to make any more, at least not any time soon. He finds them addictive. He wants help. These peanuts are perfect for cocktail parties, beer-thirst-inducing for sports watching, and – what with being nuts -  pack-able homemade gifts, too.

You can use the chile to add spicy heat, without the chile the peanuts have a lot of flavor from spices, but they aren’t hot spices. So they’re spicy but not spicy. I have a feeling you know exactly whether you want to use the chile or not already. Most folks do.

Spicy seeded peanuts

1/4 cup vegetable, sunflower, canola, or other neutral-tasting oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 fresh hot chile minced (spiciest version) or 2 – 3 small dried hot chiles such as arbols (some heat but less than the fresh chile), optional

2 cups peanuts (raw is best, roasted works just dandy, roasted and salted means you won’t need to add the “salt to taste” further down this list, dry-roasted are already flavored and aren’t quite right for this snack)

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (sounds weird, I know, but stay with me)

1 teaspoon sugar (again, I know it doesn’t sound right but it works)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon garam masala (an Indian spice mixture you can find at specialty stores or you can make your own – my version in below)

Salt to taste

Heat a wide saute pan or large pot with a fitted lid over high heat. When the pot is hot, add the oil. When the oil shimmers, about 30 seconds, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium high, and listen for the mustard seeds to start popping. Then listen for them to finish popping – it should take a minute or two. Remove the lid (things can get a little smokey at this point 0 it’s fine! solider on!), add the chile if you’re using it, and stir as it sizzles.

Add the peanuts and cook, stirring frequently, until they get toasty and plenty of browned bits. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the lemon juice, toss to combine, sprinkle with the sugar, toss to combine, sprinkle with the garam masala, and toss to combine completely and utterly thoroughly. Add salt (and more sugar or garam masala, if you like) to taste. Spread the peanuts out onto a few layers of papers towels and let them cool, drain, and dry a bit before serving. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. These peanuts keep in an air-tight container very well overnight. I imagine they keep much longer than that – a week at least, maybe more – but at my house they only lasted about 18 hours.

I like a fairly cardamom-y, peppery garam masala and make it by whirling the following in a spice mill (I use a clean coffee grinder): seeds from 10 cardamom pods, 3 Tablespoons black peppercorns, 2 Tablespoons cumin seeds,  1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 2-inch stick of cinnamon, 1 clove. I keep some in a spice jar in the cupboard and any extra in the freezer in a tiny ziploc bag. I have no idea if I should keep it in the freezer, but it always smells and tastes great when I take it out.