Kadju Maluwa “Cashew Nut Curry”
by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama
I can recall the first time I had cashew nut curry—the cashews had been plucked fresh from the trees and husked for cooking. They almost melted in my mouth, something Sri Lankans would call kiri caju (literally, milk cashews). The natural creaminess of the cashews blended with coconut milk and spices is delicious. Serve with black pork curry and tempered snake beans.
1/2 lb unsalted, raw cashew nuts (soaked overnight in water)
1/4 small red onion, chopped finely
7 curry leaves, ripped into small pieces
1-inch-long piece of pandanus leaf, fresh or frozen
1 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
2 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp unroasted curry powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
In the first 30–35 minutes of cooking, you may have to add some extra (hot) water. If so, add ¼ cup at a time.
Gently stir the cashews with a wooden spoon while cooking; otherwise the nuts will chip or break. Alternatively, use a pot with two handles so that you can periodically shake the pot to mix the ingredients.
Using a small, sharp paring knife, split open any whole cashew nuts. The cashews should be white in colour. Discard any that are greyish. Place the cashews in a medium-size pot.
Add the onion, curry leaves, pandanus leaf, salt, cardamom pods, paprika, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne. Add just enough water to cover the cashew nuts. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let cook until the cashews are soft and cooked through, approximately 30 minutes. If the water is absorbed sooner than this, add a splash of hot water as needed.
Add the coconut milk and more salt if desired. Swirl to combine, and cook slowly over low heat for another 30–35 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: Raw cashews take some time to cook through. To quicken the process, I recommend soaking them in a bowl of water for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Drain and rinse before using.
Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama learned to cook Sri Lankan food from her mother and grandmother. Her knowledge of South Asian foods and ingredients has been further enhanced by numerous trips to Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Ruwan graduated from Simon Fraser University and has lived in British Columbia, Alberta, Ottawa, and Washington state.
Image by DL Acken, recipe by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama, from Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves, copyright © 2020 by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions.