Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cashew Nut Indulgence

Cashew Nut Payasam

Mangalore is known for a surplus of cashew trees and summer time is a feast of fruits.  Most houses have  cashew trees in the compound and a single tree could have many hued pear shaped fruits ranging from yellow to orange to dusky red.  While the fruit is seldom eaten ( I made cashew fruit wine once which was a real hit, and that recipe will be shared some other time), the nuts are highly prized and a delicious addition to any menu.

The Cashew tree is large and evergreen and contains fruits which are pear shaped called the cashew apple. The fruits come in a variety of yellow, orange and red and has a very sweet aroma and taste. The fruit has a single whitish seed called cashew seed or cashew nut. The seed is surrounded with a double shell. It is a popular nut  which  can be eaten in numerous ways.  They are mildly sweet in flavor and packed with energy. The nuts have a buttery texture and are cream in color. It is used generously in Mangalorean cuisine and is a must in any Mangalorean household. 

Nutritional Value 

It helps to lower the bad cholesterol. It is a good source of magnesium which keeps our bones strong.It provides us with great energy and is packed with dietary fiber. It is a 'high-satiety food' which keeps us full and therefore are known to play a great role in weight maintainence.

Did you know? 

The cashew plant belongs to the family of poison ivy but surprisingly it produces a delicious nut.
The nuts last for about 4-6 months but if they are roasted at a very high temperature then it can easily get destroyed.

The Recipe:

1 cup cashew nuts; 3 cups milk; sugar to taste; 3 pods cardamom, crushed; 1 tsp sooji (semolina for thickening); 2 tbsp ghee; 1 leaf of vark or edible silver foil (optional).

Soak the cashew kernels overnight in warm water.  Next day drain and wash.  Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add the ghee.  Lower the flame and add the sooji, stir frying till golden brown.  Takes hardly a minute.  Next add the milk, sugar and cashew nuts and cardamom and bring to the boil.  Lower heat and cook till thick, stirring constantly to avoid burning.  Serve hot at the end of the meal with a tsp of ghee (optional).  Decorate with silver foil.  

NB:  Vark is stored in books of tissue paper.  Gently remove one leaf, open the tissue paper and invert over the payasam.  Avoid touching with your fingers as this is very delicate and will stick to your hands.  Adds a very professional twist to any dessert.

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