Commonly called Cashew nut or Kaju, it has its origin in Brazil but is widely cultivated in India along the East & West Coast of the sub continent.
When we added Anacardium occidentale to our planting list, little did we imagine the excitement it would generate nearly six years on. We are seeing a bumper crop of cashews this year— friends and family who are missing out on the harvest due to the pandemic situation are making do with photos and the occasional bottle of frozen juice when it gets sent to the city.
Am inundated with suggestions on how to enjoy the cashew apple or pseudo fruit, the tender green nuts, or how to roast the ripened cashews. Believe me, it’s best left to the experts. The photo of my sister’s attempt at making the delicacy ‘Green Cashew Curry’ will no doubt have our Goan & Konkani friends salivating. The shell of the nut is extremely toxic, so she wore gloves and laboriously shelled a hundred green cashews. She then you-tubed the recipe, found all the ingredients and made the tiniest bowl full of delicious cashew curry — alas we all got just a spoon each to taste! No wonder it is a premium menu item in Goan cuisine. Next time I buy a pack of those delicious cashews with thin pink skins, I will not forget to thank the person who has hand picked the fruit, disengaged the nut from the ‘cashew apple’, fired/roasted to perfection, and then shelled them. We gave this process a try a few times and while we managed a small bottle full of cashew bits (not even one whole cashew in a batch of 150) — some white and some burnt brown! It was a tedious and unsatisfactory task.
So we have saved up all the cashews for our visitors to enjoy. Next time we light up a bonfire for you, remember to ask for a bowl full of raw cashews. Chuck them in the fire, watch them flame up as the (toxic) oil burns out, grab them from the burning embers, cool them and then break them open to get your own roasted cashew nut. It is even more delicious after the effort!