Peanut roasting is a cold-weather trade on Delhi’s streets. The bhaiyyas, mostly migrants from the impoverished countryside of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, fill up their carts with popcorn, gajaks and peanuts. In summer, they sell watermelons.
In Delhi, peanuts arrive from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The vendors purchase their stock from the wholesale grain bazaar of Khari Baoli, in the Walled City. In December and January, the godowns there, are filled with gunny bags of peanuts; sometimes even the pavements are taken over by these sacks. One cold afternoon, we spotted a teakettle half-buried in a pile of unshelled nuts on the
are spread all over the city. A native of Moradabad, Mohammed Talib (right), 22, sets up his cart under a peepal tree at an alley behind Scindia House, Connaught Place. Talib’s cart has a coal-fired stove called
, which has a large
on which he roasts peanuts in hot salt, a traditional way of heating the nuts. The salt is roasted so frequently that it looks as brown as gravel. After tossing around the nuts for five minutes, they are ladled onto a strainer. The salt filters out and Talib scoops the nuts into small packets — made of old newspapers — for customers at a price of R100 for a kilogram.
Wait; don’t have the peanuts straight off the stove. They will be too squishy. Instead, wait a few minutes before you start popping in the carbohydrates. Then, they are warm, crunchy and fulfilling — the perfect soul food for a 5 degree Celsius soul.