July 17, 2012

Kara Kadalai (Spicy Peanut snack)

   Peanuts or Monkey nuts have always been a favorite food of mine, albeit ever since I began counting the calories, they are not as dear as before! 'Kara Kadalai' was always a great snack to have, especially during the summer vacations when I loved getting lost, reading my favorite Enid Blyton books. Just loved digging into the kadalai and sipping cold 'Rasna', the most popular flavored drink of those times. Kara Kadalai derives its name from 'Karam', which means 'hot and spicy' in Tamil and 'Kadalai,' meaning peanuts. So it is basically 'Hot and spicy peanuts'. You can find these in most savory shops in south India. I have tasted the shop made kara kadalai......they were deep fried and almost always dark red in color, maybe due to the red chilly flakes added to make them spicy. But they were never anywhere close to the kara kadalai my mom made, either in taste nor appearance. They also seemed to lack the besan coating of the home made kadalai. The measurements given below are based more on judgement rather than accuracy, since I sometimes increase or decrease the quantity of all the ingredients mentioned. To start with, you could use about 1 teacup of raw peanuts and try out this recipe, altering the quantity of all the ingredients. Since my mother used her experience in making this snack, her proportions always went by 'a handful'. This recipe is from her favorite old, handwritten recipe book.This is one easy snack to make, so do try it :)

Kara Kadalai


Raw Peanuts - 1/4 or 1/2 kgs (use whole peanuts with skin)
Besan (Gramflour/ Chickpea flour)) - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Chilli powder - 1 tbsps (add more if you like it very spicy)
Salt - 1 tsp or as per taste
Water - 1/4 cup
Oil - 1 cup


1) Place the raw peanuts in a large bowl and sprinkle just enough water so as to just coat all the nuts with water. Take care not to soak the nuts, else you will get lumps of peanuts while adding besan. Kara kadalai is supposed to have individual peanuts coated in gramflour. Don't worry if the 1/4 cup water mentioned above is not used up entirely. The peanuts should have just enough water, so the besan sticks to them properly. An easy way to do this would be to toss the nuts around in the bowl :)
2) Now add a handful of besan, chilli powder and salt to the peanuts and toss them around till they are well coated in the besan. Taste the raw peanuts to check for salt and chilli powder. Add more besan, chilli and salt, in case you feel it is less. Sprinkle some more water on the peanuts if you feel it is too dry and the besan is not sticking to it. The reason I recommend using a handful of besan at a time, rather than just adding 1/4 or 1/2 cup to the peanuts is to ensure that you don't over coat the nuts in the gramflour. This way you can adjust the flavor. Want to taste more peanuts, add less gramflour. Want a spicy flavor, add more gramflour, salt and chilli powder.

Raw peanuts coated with Gramflour, Chilli powder and Salt
3) Heat the 1 cup oil in a kadai or heavy bottomed saucepan on high flame. Once the oil is ready, test it by adding one peanut. If it sizzles, you should lower the flame and add a handful of nuts to the oil. Fry the nuts on very low flame till it appears light brown in color, taking care to stir them continuously, lest they burn.
4) Place the fried nuts on a paper towel and put them in an airtight container once they are cooled. They should  remain crunchy for upto two weeks.

  The peanuts will appear to taste soggy when you take them out of the oil. But they will become crunchy once they cool down.


  1. Thanks for the recipe Deepa. It came out well. Really crunchy!!!

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog, Gerry :) Very glad you liked the crunchy peanuts.