Chennakai Podi (Peanut Chutney Powder)

Ark of taste
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Chennakai Podi  

Chennakai podi is a traditional chutney powder made specifically in towns in the dry and arid regions of Rayalaseema, Andhra Pradesh in southern India. Other regions of Andhra have different podi types as well, but they are made with coconut or lentils. Chennakai podi is made from roasted groundnuts or peanuts, dry red chilies, garlic and salt. The secret to the production lies in the wood-fire roasting and stone grinding of these four ingredients to make a powerful, aromatic accompaniment to any main dish such as rice, Indian flat breads, dosas and more.   First, the groundnuts are roasted over a slow flame in an open pan. They are then set aside and their skins are removed. Next, the chilies and unpeeled garlic are also roasted until brown. After the groundnuts have been rid of their flaky skin, all three ingredients are stone ground with rock salt until coarse, not smooth. The chennakai podi made in this manner has a unique smoky aroma that is highly appreciated. An average production yields one kilogram of chennakai podi. It is nearly always made in the home for personal consumption, though at least one farmers’ cooperative is also selling this product.   There are several reasons for wood-fire chennakai podi may soon disappear. Dietary habits are fast changing, and the majority of people in the area now inexpensive, government subsidized foods. Nutrition awareness and cooking is on the decline and three or four step cooking methods such as those needed for the chennakai podi are now considered time consuming and tedious. The proper way of making it with wood-fire and grinding under stone (known as rubburaayi) becoming more and more uncommon as the days go by.

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Andhra Pradesh