I was introduced to this magnificent Cashew Nut Curry in India. In the terrible town of Kollam. OK, maybe the town isn't all that bad, but we didn't have the best of times. As a westerner travelling in India, it's all good for the most part until it isn't! I absolutely love India but unavoidably, will have one or two days when all I want is to be left alone and not have every bodily sense I possess assaulted on a minute by minute basis.
This was one such time. On arrival in Kollum we'd booked/been tricked into a horrendous place. After a terrible sleep, and a day of being harassed, poked, prodded and stared at. Back at the hotel, with its dripping taps, swirling mosquitos and clanking pipes I finally 'snapped'. We called it a day and fled to the relative comfort of a nearby 'executive hotel'. A fluffy bed, no mosquitos and most importantly - complete silence.
Kaju Curry - a delicious vegan cashew curry.
Kollam is in the South of India and, like many restaurants in the region, was vegetarian/vegan. The vegetarian and vegan dishes in India are beyond delicious, nutritious, colourful and packed full of everything you could ever want. On the menu, were so many things I wanted to try but the one that stood out was a Kaju Masala, or Cashew Curry. I remember that the chef in this particular restaurant was Sri Lankan - there was a lengthy section in the menu ALL ABOUT HIM!, and so many of the dishes reflected his heritage.
Sri Lanka and South India share similarities in that they utilise coconut, rice and fresh ingredients more than the North of India and Pakistan. A Sri Lankan Kaju Curry is pretty much the same as an Indian Kaju Curry. Nuts, spices and creamy coconut milk!
I have eaten and cooked a million curries over the years, featuring all kinds of ingredients, but never tried nut curries before so was very intrigued. The flavours are a triumph - mild, lightly spiced and coconut infused. So filling and a perfect substitute for any meat. I never once even thought about meat when in India. It was a welcome delight that day, we devoured it like no other curry, and returned to our room for more luxury and silence. It was a dish I knew I'd replicate at home.
Cooking Cashew Nut Curry at home.
Cashew nut curry has the most wonderful texture, the nuts are soft, but still have a little bite, and together in the fragrant, creamy sauce create something quite luxurious. Making it at home is simple too. There are no tricky techniques, it's a very straightforward dish. A quick soak of the unsalted cashews, primes them to take in all the flavour of spice. Be sure to buy unsalted - salted nuts will make the final dish too salty and you'll lose the unique flavour. Cashews have a distinctive nutty flavour which permeates the entire sauce - so delicious. It feels like this curry should be more difficult than it actually is - but feel free to amp up your cleverness to whoever you serve it to.
Serving suggestions and more delicious Indian recipes.
Being from the south, rice is king - and the cashew nut curry works perfectly with it. But Indian breads are a good option too. And if you're feeling adventurous, maybe try making an Indian Poori Bread - a puffed fried bread that I can not get enough of! At home, I also like to serve this kaju curry with other vegetarian or vegan Indian dishes to make for more of a taste and textural journey! Try some of my favourites...