BENGALURU: Having been a chef for close to 20 years, one thing that I have learned quickly is that food and culinary are a very vast topic – you discover something new and unheard of with every step you. Having come from a south Indian family, with most of my earlier days spent in small villages, I realised that few of the traditional dishes that were passed down from generation to generation, tasted very different when my grandmother used to cook it, and was no comparison to my own recreation of her recipe.
I think it could be because of the quality of oil she used. I always saw her use oil that was pressed from seeds and fruit from our farms, and she never used the mechanical pressed oil for her cooking. The one ingredient that stands out for me and that makes the simplest of dishes a work of art is cold pressed peanut oil. It has delicate flavour and is extremely versatile. Though not extensively available, as the process of extraction and filtration involved is labour-intensive and takes a few days. However, this process enriches the character and flavour of the dish.
Cold-pressed peanut oil is good for your health. It has a low smoking point, and hence, it is not advisable for frying purposes, but is great to temper food at the very end. Peanut oil, particularly, goes very well with non-vegetarian dishes and is used extensively in the Rayala Seema area of Andhra Pradesh, which
includes Chittoor, Karnool, Kadapa and Anantapur. It is also used in some traditional sweet dishes to add a nutty flavour as well.
One of my favourite dishes in which I use cold pressed peanut oil is Seema Andhra Kodi Vepudu (stir-fried chicken, marinated with chili, turmeric and coriander, finished with curry leaves and green chili) – a simple dish with complex flavours and the star ingredient being the cold pressed peanut oil.
– Purushotham Naidu, sous chef- corporate(south Indian), The Leela Palace Bengaluru