I ordered the “peanut masala” thinking it would be a nice crunchy snack to go with lunch. I did not expect to get something that I might have otherwise described as “salsa fresca with peanuts”. Though the combination was unusual to my eyes, it turned out to be a very tasty addition to my dal (lentils) and rice. The tang of the raw onion and the crunch of peanuts was a perfect complement to the mellow flavors and smooth texture of the dal.
I tried to identify its component parts to determine what it was made of. I found no trace of garlic, but there was a finely diced, flat, greenish-white vegetable that I could only guess was cabbage (I asked later and they confirmed my suspicions). Otherwise it was a pretty typical salsa fresca with the unusual addition of peanuts.
I searched online for “peanut masala” and discovered that I had not stumbled upon a revolutionary new dish. This is apparently a common snack all across India. However, the vast majority of recipes cook the peanuts in oil with dry spices. Of those that use fresh ingredients, none mention cabbage or any ingredient like it. So I thought I might add one more version to the pile. The proportions I chose are rough estimates. Use the photo below as a guide and adjust to taste.
Fresh Peanut Masala a la Jas Vilas
- 1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts: toast lightly and let cool
- 1 medium red onion, small dice (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small tomato, medium dice (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 small green chili, sliced
- 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped finely (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup of green cabbage, very small dice
- 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp finely ground cayenne powder
- 1/4 tsp salt (or Kala Namak, Indian black salt)
Combine all ingredients and serve. As a variation, coarsely chop the peanuts to make it more “dip-friendly”.