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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. 



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! 


 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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Cashew on Foodista

Washington Post's - Express Night Out

I am very humbled and honored to be featured in the Express


Culinary Dream Team: D.C.'s Own Top Chefs

Carole Greenwood
TRADITIONALLY, D.C. has represented itself well in televised cooking competitions. "Hell's Kitchen" winner (and Virginia native) Rock Harper promptly installed himself at the upscale Ben's Chili Bowl affiliate Next Door after fulfilling the Las Vegas obligations that constituted his prize. José Andrés defeated Bobby Flay on an episode of "Iron Chef America." And locals have even fared well on Bravo favorite "Top Chef," with kooky Wheaton caterer Carla Hall a runner-up in the fifth season, and onetime New Yorker Spike Mendelsohn migrating south to open his Good Stuff Eatery following his season four appearance.

So why is there no love for the District on the latest Bravo offering, "Top Chef Masters"? New Yorkers predictably predominate, although there's a large Californian contingent as well. Texas, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas and the Southwest all get some representation. All D.C. can claim is Art Smith, who despite running Art and Soul at the Liason Capitol Hill Hotel, is far better known for his Chicago affiliations: the Table 52 restaurant and a stint as Oprah's personal chef.

Assuming Smith's trademark hoecakes don't win it all, here are a few suggestions for D.C. area chefs who would have brought both skill and a bit of drama to the series.

» Carole Greenwood (pictured above)
Unlike her peers on this list, Carole Greenwood is not too busy in the kitchen or plotting a new venture to take on a reality TV project. In fact, just a few days ago came a formal acknowledgment that Greenwood had Comet Ping Pong.
Now sole owner James Alefantis told the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema that Greenwood plans on pursuing opportunities in "food writing, music and art." There's no reason that vague list couldn't include television as well.

Greenwood certainly has the culinary record to warrant inclusion on the "Masters" edition, having been executive chef at her own Greenwood restaurant before moving on to her recent projects. Perhaps more important, her abrupt departure signals that she has considerable entertainment potential as well. How would a chef who was known to get histrionic over minor menu substitutions respond to a "make an amuse-bouche out of ingredients in this vending machine" quickfire challenge? Sadly, we can only speculate.

K.N. Vinod
» K.N. Vinod
Indique, Indique Heights, Bombay Bistro
While chef and restaurateur K.N. Vinod doesn't bring the temperamental flair of a Carole Greenwood, he does have a lengthy career preparing both Indian classics and his own creative interpretations. His deconstructed samosa demonstrates the kind of playfulness "Top Chef" judges typically enjoy, and the scalloped veal with orange salsa on the Indique menu indicates a willingness to experiment. He also possesses what is perhaps the best mustache in the D.C. area.

Michael Landrum
» Michael Landrum
Ray's the Steaks, Ray's the Classics, Ray's Hell-Burger
It is always interesting when "Top Chef" includes a contestant with a clear specialty, and Michael Landrum is well-equipped to fill that role. Although his seafood and side dishes have been well-received, Landrum is best known for one thing: beef. Since opening the original Ray's the Steaks in 2002 (it has since relocated), Landrum has focused on providing diners with excellent steaks without the pretense. Even following Obama and Biden's recent lunch excursion to Ray's Hell-Burger, it seems certain that Landrum will continue to provide quality, unfussy cooking, and on "Top Chef Masters" might have some conflict with his more precious, molecular gastronomy-inclined peers. For the record, our money is on Landrum in a hypothetical throwdown with wd-50 proprietor Wylie Dufresne (an actual contestant).

Dimitri Moshovitis
» Dimitri Moshovitis
Cava Rockville, Cava Capitol Hill
Moshovitis may be little-known outside of the D.C. area thus far, but he is doing everything in his power to change that. Not only has he expanded his Greek mezze restaurant Cava into a second location on Capitol Hill, he has also begun marketing a range of Cava's mezze spreads through local Whole Foods outlets. Greek cuisine has been mostly unrepresented on "Top Chef," but more interesting would be seeing how well Moshovitis could adapt from the small-plate mentality. It seems as though his mezze focus could serve him well in quickfire challenges, but since his entree repertoire is completely unknown, he could end up performing well or awfully in the elimination rounds.

Nora Poullion
» Nora Poullion
Restaurant Nora
Nora Poullion was at the forefront of the local, organic and sustainable foods movement in this area, and her restaurant received the first-ever organic certification. D.C.'s answer to Alice Waters could certainly go to town on a farmer's market challenge, and like Greenwood, it would be fun to see her attempt one of the more lowbrow quickfires, assuming the "Masters" will be compelled to work with canned goods, Swanson's broth, or vending machine snacks as on previous seasons. Poullion also ran Asia Nora for a decade, so she clearly feels comfortable working with foreign cuisines.

Written by Express contributor Meg Zamula
Photos by The Washington Post, Stacy Zarin, Louis Raimondo