For my friends who know what kind of a passionate Bangalorean I am, it will come as no surprise that Congress kadalekai figures in my list of posts. Kadalekai (groundnuts/ peanuts) is more or less a staple chaat (snack) in Bangalore (don't want to get carried away just by mentioning Bangalore, since it is popular throughout India) with various alterations to the preparation style lending a lip smacking effect.
Groundnuts can be roasted, boiled, peeled and boiled (note the difference between the two), added to sambar (south Indian lentil soup, to give a loose translation, though soup in no way adds justification to the translation), to curries (a sort of a side-dish when having your meal with sambar or rasam (a bracket within a bracket is required just to say that rasam is a toned down version of sambar with less lentils) or curd rice). I feel happy to know that I have closed the brackets properly, thanks to the numerous compiler errors I have faced because of incomplete brackets! So, another variant of the preparation leads us to what is called as Congress kadalekai. This, one can say, is one of the fundamental identifying factors of a Bangalorean. If you look at this Deccan Herald link, it mentions that this snack is popular in other parts of Karnataka as well.
My earliest exposure to the congress kadalekai dates back to the mid-nineties, when my father used to get the famous Congress buns, from the famous VV Puram bakery (aka VB Bakery) in Bangalore south (Sajjan Rao circle, to be precise). I have been a big fan ever since. Well, to explain Congress buns, you got to know what Congress kadalekai is. Congress kadalekai is prepared by first peeling the groundnuts off their outer covering, roasting them to an extent that the inner thin layer is peeled off as well, and adding some masala (mixture of several ingredients that are ground) to the roasted groundnuts. That's all that is there to the special snack. You can enhance the kadalekai by adding finely cut onions, tomatoes and nicely chopped coriander leaves, adding a squeeze of lemon as a final step in the sequence. The end result is an awesome snack which you can have along with a cup of tea in the evenings. To say the least, it is absolutely brilliant. All said and done, I was never bothered about the recipe, since it is available in plenty in Bangalore, that you don't even think of preparing at home.
I have never had congress kadalekai at any other place apart from the ones brought from Bangalore South. Well, that's the place where it is really famous. I am sure Malleswaram must have shops that cater exclusively to the Congress Kadalekai lovers. But, for me, VB bakery and the adjoining shops have served the perfect Congress Kadalekai. So, when Yadu told me that he had brought Congress Kadalekai from Bangalore, I just could not resist, but to add the extra garnishes to prepare a fine evening snack.
The culinary aspect of India is by itself such a broad topic that the very thought of it can leave you hungry all the time. Congress Kadalekai just enhances the fine culinary repertoire of a food maniac nation!