Last Thursday evening, we hosted a really fabulous ‘curries of the world’ cooking class. We made curry powders and curry pastes from scratch before cooking with these wonderfully fragrant and delicious creations.
New to this class was my cashew nut curry. Our gorgeous Ava has fallen in love with this dish. It was so lovely to welcome her home from camp last Friday with a warm bowlful of this.
You need to start this recipe a few hours ahead of time as the cashews do need some soaking. Nuts contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes, which we also need to soak before cooking and enjoyment. The soaking breaks down the phytic acid so it can be adequately absorbed in our bodies. Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors. Soaking nuts can neutralize the enzymes allowing for proper digestion and stops bloating.
Generally, the harder the nut, the longer the soaking time – around 8 hours. Nuts like cashews and pine nuts with a softer shell soak for 2 to 4 hours. Discard any floaters during soaking time.
Cashew nut curry
One of the characteristics of Sri Lankan cuisine is the preference for freshly prepared curry powders rather than using pastes.
This nourishing (and might I please add, delicious?) cashew nut curry is both vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
Start this recipe a few hours before.
400g cashew nuts (soaked overnight)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed with a crusher or finely diced
1 cinnamon quill
10 curry leaves
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
3-4 teaspoons of Sri Lankan curry powder (see recipe below)
½ teaspoon turmeric
A small pinch Aleppo chilli powder
1 teaspoon caster sugar
A good pinch of sea salt
400ml coconut milk
50g green peas
Sri Lankan curry powder
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon quill, crumbled
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds (from about 10 pods)
3 dried Kashmiri chillies (optional) or use 1 teaspoon dried Kashmiri chilli powder
Place the cashew nuts in a bowl cover with double their volume of water. Add a teaspoon of salt & mix to dissolve. Leave the cashews for 2 to 4 hours.
To make the curry powder, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add spices and stir for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and then add the chillies, if using. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Heat oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent and fragrant. Add the crushed garlic & stir while cooking for a further 60 seconds. Add cinnamon quill, curry leaves and green chilli and cook for an additional minute or two.
Add the drained cashews and fry for 1 minute. Add the curry powder, turmeric, Aleppo chilli and caster sugar. Add the sea salt and coconut milk. Stir to combine.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. The cashews should be firm but not crunchy. Add the peas and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add a small amount of water, if you find that it is needed during the cooking time.