Chintamani is one of the most historically important towns in the newly created Chikkaballapur district in Karnataka. Previously a part of the Kolar district, this town was an important trading centre during the time of the mighty Cholas. Fragments of the rich culture, art and architecture of the successive dynasties that ruled over this town like the Western Ganga dynasty, Vijayanagara Empire, Kingdom of Mysore (Wodeyars) and others are still seen in some parts of the town.
It is generally accepted by locals that Chintamani derives its name from a Maratha chieftain, Chintamani Rao though there is hardly any information about this local ruler in the archives. Chintamani is well known in Karnataka for its delicious agricultural produce. The Chintamani Tomato Market is one of the largest in Karnataka. Besides tomatoes, mangoes, bananas, sarsaparilla juice (nannari sharbat), milk, dairy products and savouries are extremely popular among locals and visitors.
One of the most spectacular delicacies of Chintamani is its groundnuts. The famous fried groundnuts or hot peanuts or Chintamani kadalebeeja as it is locally known is a unique product made only in this town and it is unlikely that you will find these tasty nuts anywhere else in the country!
According to the farmers, the Chintamani – 2 variety of nuts grown in Chintamani thrives in the semi-arid climatic conditions, rolling topography and soil that is a mix of clayey, rocky and loamy. This Rabi crop finds many takers in local markets who either use it to make their signature savoury snacks or cold-pressed groundnut oil which is sold all over the country.
Each and every groundnut is carefully hand-picked by local vendors. It is then roasted to perfection which is an important process for it increases the antioxidants and quality. These peanuts are sold as unsalted or salted or as hot peanuts. Spicy and roasted grains are also added sometimes to enhance its taste.
The perfect coating of spices on and inherent taste of the groundnuts makes this delicious savoury snack irresistible. These fried nuts are so popular that they are not only bought by locals but also exported to USA and other countries. Many of the vendors of Azad Chowka in Chintamani have been in business for centuries. Chintamani peanuts is undoubtedly a treasured legacy of Chintamani and its residents.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)