Modernising traditional Pantry Staples

Food incites memories. We truly relish food that is rooted in
our soil. In my 2 years of experience in hosting food pop-ups
around various themes, I learnt that most of us truly enjoy
flavours that are reminiscent of childhood and closest to our
inherent palate. We desire to eat clean, fresh, preservative-free
food. Re-hashing of traditional food in a modern convenient
form appeals to a fast-paced urban life, with limited time and
energy to spare in the kitchen.
Modern-day food that makes a connection to a fond memory in
our past is delightful! Peanut Butter that reminds you of granny
who indulged you to hot phulka with a sprinkling of dry peanut
chutney, Guava Jelly that reminisces of chaniya-maniya vendor
outside school premises, Caramel Sauce that brings to mind a
certain toffee we relished as a kid, Alubukhar Jam that makes
your mouth pucker and break into a smile at the same time or
Honey Mustard Sauce that stirs up memory of an unassuming
jar of Kasundi – the flavour bomb that totally blew your mind.
Such food is enjoyable and “satisfying”.
Keeping these aspects in mind, I decided to launch a range of
spreads and condiments that are made with top quality
indigenous and seasonal produce. I played with core recipes of
modern-day pantry staples to give them an exciting desi twist,
many of which inspired by our traditional Maharashtrian
flavours. Our very moreish Amsul Chutney modernised and
rechristened as “Kokum Relish”, Lasun Chutney in the guise of
“Spicy Coconut Butter with Garlic Confit”, Mango Jam with a
soul of Moramba, “Peanut Butter” spiked with byadgi mirchi
that tastes like shengdanyachi chutney and so many other
traditional flavour combinations brought up-to- date for a
modern pantry of globetrotting, urban Indians with a refined
palate looking for quick-fix- meals. During pop-up events when
offered a tasting of one such, the instant delight on the face is
that of one who finds a way back to a certain forgotten
memory bylane and OH! What a happy place is that to be!
Recipe for Spicy Peanut Butter Spread
500 gms peanuts, dry roasted and de-shelled

A sprig or 2 of curry leaves, sun-dried and crushed to powder
2 tsp chilly powder (combination of Byadgi and Sankeshwari for
flavour and colour balance)
Salt and Sugar as per taste
Blitz peanuts in a food processor for 5-10 minutes. You will see
the powdery texture changing to a more clumpy form as the
oils from the peanuts are released, scrape sides of the jar if
required and continue blending till clumpy form gives away to a
paste-like consistency. At this point, add all the other
flavouring ingredients and continue blending for another couple
of minutes till well incorporated and of spreadable consistency.
If you desire a pourable consistency, add half a tsp peanut oil
and blend for another minute, however good quality freshly
roasted peanuts renders addition of extra oil unnecessary.
Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Decant in a clean
odour-free glass jar. It stores well upto 10 days at room
temperature or upto 3 months in a refrigerator. If you find an
oil slick on top, do not fret, give it a quick stir to combine,
these are “good oils” released from the peanut.

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