Balala (Vegan, DF, GF, May contain Nuts)

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These are boiled nuts…But look closer….and a little closer still and you’ll find a hidden treasure trove of travel and childhood memories

These boiled nuts are a snack that my grandma used to make in Africa, the recipe and tradition of which she brought to the UK (some say the nuts too). I have only ever heard this dish being called Balala, which after some research (thanks google) I derided must come from a child’s interpretation of Bambara, which is what these nuts are called

This dish is originally from West Africa and so has made it’s way all over the world through the immigrant families of colonized nations who made there way through Africa to other far flung destinations and of course the recipe also travelled with the slave trade and so can still be found in may homes and restaurants in the southern united states

The process of soaking and boiling takes a while, but the result is a childhood memory and of a loved one no longer with us

So I’ll take this opportunity to say once more, thank you Bigmama for your love, caring, your warm embrace may no longer be available to hold us close but your recipes show us your journey, your strength and your eternal love. Happy 95th Birthday

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 pounds raw peanuts in the shell

Method

  • Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 gallons water in a 3-gallon stockpot; add peanuts. (Weigh down peanuts, if desired, with a large plate or lid to ensure they’re fully submerged.) Soak 8 hours or overnight
  • Drain water; refill pot with 2 gallons water and remaining 1 cup salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 5 to 8 hours or until peanuts are tender, adding water as needed to keep peanuts covered; stir occasionally. (South Carolina-style peanuts are very soft, but some cooks prefer them al dente.) When the peanuts have boiled 3 hours, check for texture and saltiness. If the peanuts are not salty enough, add salt in 1/4-cup increments, turn off heat, and let soak 1 hour. Check peanuts for seasoning every hour.
  • Remove from heat, and cool 1 hour.
  • Drain and eat immediately or store (in the shell) in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Boiled peanuts will keep 7 days in the refrigerator, several months in the freezer.
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