Once school was done and examinations wrestled with it was time for my syblings and I to pack our bags and go by the night train from Bangalore to Shimoga where my uncle Sam would meet us and drive us through the Ghats to my grandparents home “Grace Villa” in Kundapur, South India. All twelve of us cousins met there every April/May and looked forward to six wonderful weeks of fun and food. My grandmother who pampered us, kept a well stocked larder. The summer holidays was the highlight of our little lives as we could roam the garden and neighbourhood at will, stopping only to eat Rangoon Cherries, raw mangoes with salt and chillie powder or drink the sweet coconut water and devour its delicious white flesh. We were always hungry and looked forward to our grandmother or Ajjamma as we fondly called her to announce that it was time to eat.
Cashew fruit trees grew in abundance in Kundapur and the surrounding areas and the green nuts, available only during summer were a gourmet’s delight. Local women would patiently crack the green shell and extract the creamy kernel. You had to be an expert at doing this as the juice from the outer covering was acidic and could burn the skin. We would watch in fascination as the women skillfully extracted the nuts and then went around to the various houses trying to find customers for these delectable morsels. This particular recipe brings back fond memories of raids on the larder where Ajjamma hid them from us. The summer holidays were never quite complete without this delicious dish and it is a traditional recipe handed down in the family for generations…from mother to daughter. I use cashewnuts for this recipe as the kernels are not available in Kuala Lumpur. This is a great favourite with family and friends and keeps alive the spirit of cooking. Though decadent, it is truly a connoisseur’s dream.
Kundapur Kashew Kernels
250 gms broken cashewnuts (or tender cashewnuts available during April/May); 1 large onion, sliced; 2 tbsp. grated coconut; ½ tsp. chilli powder; salt to taste; ¼ tsp. mustard; 1 sprig curry leaves.
Soak cashewnuts overnight. Next day drain and cook on medium fire in ¼ cup water till tender. Keep aside. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a deep frying pan and add the mustard. When it spurts add the curry leaves, followed by the onions. Fry to a dark golden brown. Add the chilli powder and cashewnuts and stir fry a minute or till all the water evaporates. Add salt to taste. Stir in the grated coconut and mix well. Serve hot with rice or chappathis. Absolutely delicious. Served at weddings, feasts and special occasions.
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