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NUTS ABOUT CASHEWS

FROM TREE TO MOM'S CHUTNEY

My first experience with cashew nuts was when I used to visit Kerala as a child on vacations. More recently I had the opportunity to visit our ancestral home with my wife and kids. We were all fascinated as my grandfather showed us cashew nut trees, mango trees, jackfruit trees, pepper corns, pineapple, coconut trees, banana trees, paddy fields, etc . On the topic of cashew nuts, my understanding is that cashew trees were brought to India from South America by the Portuguese. The cashew nut (seed) grows on the blossom head of an edible "apple", as shown in the pictures below. 

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When growing up, my family and I would eat the apple when it was ripe. This fruit is made into jams, jellies, and marmalades. The cashew nut is extracted from this seed by roasting the seed in open containers, earthen ware pots, rotary cylinders or hot oil baths. After roasting, the shells are removed and the nut is extracted manually. These kernels are then dried in hot air chambers, which help in the peeling of a thin membrane/skin on the cashew nut. Women mostly work in these cashew factories in Kerala, shelling the cashew nuts. The shelled nuts are usually segregated into whole, split, or broken and then, graded and priced accordingly.

Buying whole cashew nuts are only necessary if you are serving them whole. So if you want to save money, I recommend that you buy broken or split cashew nuts, as you are probably going to process them during cooking. For my restaurants, I buy whole cashew nuts to serve with cocktails and I buy  split or broken nuts for utilization in curries and chutneys.

Here is what you have been waiting for in this blog posting – My Mom’s cashew nut chutney - here is the recipe - Yum! 

MY MOM'S CASHEW NUT CHUTNEY

 Cashew nuts – 1 cup

Coconut (grated) – 1cup

Ginger -  a small piece - cut into small pieces or juliennes

Shallots – 2 cups ( sliced )

Tamarind – 1 ounce *  

Whole red chilly – 4 or 5

Salt – to taste

Vegetable oil - 2 tablespoons

1.   Soak an ounce of tamarind in hot water. Just enough water to cover the tamarind. (Tamarind is  sold in Indian grocery stores – it comes packaged as a 7 ounce seedless slab.

2.   In a frying pan heat oil and add whole red chilly, ginger and shallots. Once the onions are translucent,  add cashew nuts, and grated coconut. Stir for two minutes and remove from fire. Stone grind as shown in the pictues below...... :-)

   or you put all the ingredients in to a food processor and grind  using very little water,adjust the seasoning and use as you like....

      This is a thick chutney that you can use it any way you like - use it as a spread for your sandwiches, bagels.......  

      * If buying the tamarind slab is too cumbersome or if it is not available add abut half an ounce of the store bought “tamarind paste” - the store bought tamarind paste however will make the chutney much darker.

Variation : You can substitute raw green mangoes instead of the tamarind and see the results…. and report back to me on this blog.

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