The special thing about shelled peanuts

The special thing about shelled peanuts

So the husband came home with a bag of these. 

N looked at it curiously. ‘What is this’, she asked? 
‘Mungphali’ (peanuts), said I. 

It rang no bell for her. 

‘So how do you eat these?’ she asked giving the shell a lick and finding no flavour at all. 
‘That’s the shell, silly,’ said I, ‘you’re supposed to crack it open, like this, I demonstrated.
Tentatively, she followed and then jumped with excitement .. Ooh this has peanuts inside it, she said, like she’d met an age-old friend. She does love peanuts.
That made me laugh.
And yet it made me wonder at how unaware H and N were about simple things like unshelled peanuts. You know what’s even more interesting? They’ve seen pictures in their science books but cannot connect it with the real thing even when they see it. How strange is that!
When we were young it was ‘normal’ to have to shell peanuts. In fact during the winters it was quite a tradition. We’d sit in a circle  all bundled up against the cold, monkey caps or shawls pulled up over our heads, with a big tray of peanuts in the middle. We’d shell and eat them with coarsely ground garlic-chili-coriander chutney. And it was the the most delicious thing on earth. Over anecdotes and stories and age-old family jokes time would simply fly.
If we happened to be sitting around a fire we’d occasionally throw the shells into it and watch as they flared up and burned out in an instance. Such a thrill that was!
Sometimes my grandmother would shell some peanuts and fold my fist quietly over them. That tiny fistful of shelled peanuts made me feel the most special person on earth.
Now my kids take it all for granted. They might be getting their peanuts shelled, salted and ready to eat but there’s nothing special about them anymore.

31 Replies to “The special thing about shelled peanuts”

  1. That beautiful memory of you and your grandmother, reminded me of Nanaji and myself sitting in the garden in winter sun in Lucknow and he shelling those peanuts for me. Ah! Nostalgia!

  2. Ohmygosh! I love shelling peanuts! I spent almost all of December eating peanuts. Just plain steamed shelled groundnuts, and tea to drink. Shelling groundnuts is such a relaxing activity 🙂

  3. Love shelling sand roasted peanuts in winters and your account made me yearn for some right away 🙂
    I agree, life was simpler when we were kids and it is totally up to us to help our kids get a taste of that part of our lives to feel the connect of life and culture just the way we feel 🙂

    1. Yes of course. It has to be a conscious exercise. To think our parents didn't even have to try. We absorbed it on our own, perhaps because of the large joint families we lived in.

  4. Aah! Those were the days! We used to do it exactly like that and our winters were not complete without eating moongfali in rajai or around a bon fire.
    Our kids are really missing out on all these lovely traditions. The other day, I was teaching Aaryan about shelling peanuts with hands as he preferred shelling them with his teeth!!

  5. Such a warm memory. 🙂 When my parents used to bring shelled peanuts I used to ask them why, since we could get readily salted hot ones anyway. Ah well, times change. 🙂

  6. I used to love how my mother would steam those shelled peanuts in the cooker and give us to eat and relish. How much of all those simply beautiful things today's generation are missing from their lives, what with everything ready-to…!
    I could feel the cold in my bones as I read your description of your childhood days, of sitting around the bonfire and eating the peanuts! 🙂

  7. I have the exact same memories. These groundnuts with all sorts of salts and chutneys. And then throwing them in the angeethi and getting a stare. Oh I miss those times and that kind of cold yet warm time too.
    So lovely you shared this!
    Btw – my recently allergy to nuts has made me miss peanuts a lot. 🙁

  8. I love shelled peanuts and shelling them. Did you know that here in the South much like some parts of Maharashtra, peanuts are boiled in salted water with shells on and sold. I developed a taste for those when we came to live here.

    But I do miss that balu mein fried shelled peanuts of my childhood that we had with the same chutney that you mentioned. Did you call it namak too?

    Ah those memories!

  9. Lovely. You know, Tulika, the idea behind buying things in their shells also helps keep off weight, because you take the time to open them and so, slow down and savor every bite. I remember when Vidur saw a black rotary dial phone and wondered how it worked. Times have changed, and it is nice to remember and cherish memories, and share them, of course. Hugs. I love peanuts, too. Both the comic and the legume!

  10. This left such a warm feeling in my heart! Will be interesting to see what this generation of kids will feel nostalgic about when they are our age.

  11. Nostalgia will always keep us company when we are weary of this world. I find comfort there often especially when I'm overwhelmed by the pace of life these days. Kids are so adorable in their innocence. To think such a thing as shelled peanuts can do so much for wonder and joy. What a treat!

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