The first time I saw a cashew curry was on a TV show with the chef Peter Kuruvita. He was in Sri Lanka visiting markets full of awesome, colourful spices and produce and I really wanted to be there. Unfortunately at the time that was not going to happen, but I was determined to make his curry to compensate. I was glad I did. It’s a really creamy, rich dish and I love it.
I have made versions of this curry many times and this one is basically my favourite. I am always tempted to add loads of different spices to curries because I love complex flavours, but sometimes I force myself to be restrained to let one particular thing stand out.
Here the stand out flavour is the curry leaves. You really need fresh ones to make this dish; dried ones do not have the same taste. There are basically just 6 spices giving the aroma here & the majority are in small amounts. I have added the fenugreek which is different from the original, as I think it gives a more rounded finish. I also add ground cinnamon as well as whole.
I like to throw in some sort of vegetable in small amounts for added texture. Here I have used runner beans as they are in season and beans are, in my opinion the best type of vegetable to add. They are a fairly neutral flavour and, just blanched so they are still crunchy, they contrast with the nuts beautifully. Sweet veg are too much, so something green is best. Okra is yummy too, but I couldn’t find any this week.
I like to serve my cashew curry with green chutney to cut through the richness. There is a lot of creamed coconut and the cashews also have a creamy texture & sweet taste. I make hot green chutney bursting with refreshing mint & coriander to contrast with the creaminess & eat loads of it, almost like a vegetable. I also sometimes add a little Kewra water to change things up a bit and add a floral note. Fresh coriander leaves, grated coconut or toasted cashews also make great garnishes for this.
Cashew Curry (Serves 4)
Here is what you need:
- 300g cashews
- 2 tbsp. ghee (or butter or vegetable oil)
- 1 large onion (or 6 shallots)
- 15 fresh curry leaves
- 2 small green chillies – or any hot chilli
- 1tsp roasted ground cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. roasted ground fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- 1 large piece Cassia bark
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 runner beans
- 150 ml coconut cream
- ¼ tsp. curry powder
- ½ tsp. salt
Here is how to do it:
- Soak the cashews in cold water for an hour before you start.
- Roast and grind the cumin & fenugreek seeds and set them aside for later.
- Thinly slice the onions. I used a red onion here, but prefer shallots.
- Melt the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and add the onions, chopped chilli and curry leaves.
- Cook these on a medium heat for 45 minutes until the onion is softening and the curry leaves are really fragrant – basically until your whole house smells.
- At this point chuck in the rest of the spices, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon and the Cassia
- Stir these around for a minute or so to release the aromas and then add the drained cashews.
- Give everything a good stir for a couple more minutes and then you can add the coconut milk. Incorporate all the ingredients and leave them to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the consistency of the coconut milk has changed and it is thick.
- Meanwhile slice the runner beans nice and thin (about 2mm) and blanch them in salted water so they stay crunchy. Refresh them in cold water.
- Now add the salt and check the seasoning. I use pink Himalayan salt whenever I can as it has a great flavour.
- At this point you can let the curry sit for a while until you are ready to serve. I like to do this to develop the flavours.
- When serving time comes, add the runner beans, heat the curry and place the portions in serving bowls. Spoon some coconut cream over the top and dust with curry powder.
I enjoy this most with some plain rice and green chutney. In fact, green chutney is really essential to this dish, so I am posting up the recipe for that too!
Thanks for reading, hope you give it a go. If you do, let us know, we’d love to hear how you got on!