I can’t remember the first time I ate peanut butter; I used to read Dennis the Menace comic strips as a child (and we all know how much Dennis loved his ‘peanut butter and jelly sammiches’) and I’m pretty sure my first fascination with peanut butter started then. I clamoured for a PB&J of my own; not a staple in the diet of an Indian child growing up in a small town in the south of India in the eighties, I can assure you.
Eventually my mum gave in and bought us peanut butter. The only peanut butter available back in the day was a slimy and disgusting concoction in a ghastly tub that had a caricature of a fat child on it. It tasted just as horrible as it looked. Mum realised we were disappointed in peanut butter and utterly disillusioned with Dennis and his taste in food. So she did a little research (pre-Internet days) and experimented a bit and came up with her own version of peanut butter.
We adored it! We put it on everything, in everything, and ate it as often as we could. I think I put it on sponge cake once. I would sneak into the larder and sit in there with a book and spoon, eating mum’s peanut butter straight from the jar. It was the most gorgeous nutty buttery treat in the world, and I could never have enough of it.
I left home and travelled around the world, but I always took mum’s peanut butter recipe with me everywhere I went. One taste of it was always enough to take me back to the slightly cave-like larder in that large old rambling house in which I was lucky enough to grow up; I could close my eyes and feel like a child again, indulging in a forbidden treat that had been locked away so I wouldn’t make myself sick with eating too much of it. I’ve never lost that, to this day, and I hope my children will have the same love for it someday.
Recipe: Padmasree Vardaraj
Photographs: Awanthi Vardaraj
4 cups peanuts
1/3 cup oil (I use sunflower but you can use olive, if you prefer)
1/4 cup sugar (granulated white sugar is fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1) Dry roast the peanuts in a wok or pan. You basically want them to get a little colour on them and warm them up. It’s a way to get them to release their natural oils faster.
2) Toss the peanuts in your food processor and blitz them until they are very coarsely ground. I like my peanut butter to have some crunch to it; it adds texture and interest. But if you like yours smooth, feel free to blitz to a powder. Take care not to blitz it too much; it must still be dry.
3) Add the rest of the ingredients and keep going until the ingredients are blended together and you have peanut butter.
4) Store in dry sterilised bottles or jars and keep in a cool place. There is no need to refrigerate this.
1) Dry roasting the peanuts over a low flame until they change colour is important. So even if your peanuts are supposedly roasted, I suggest doing it again.
2) Don’t use salted peanuts; stick with using plain ones.
3) The bun in the photo is from my Soft Doughy Buns post.
Enjoy this! Let me know if you make it and how much you loved it!