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Forget the fancy truffles or flavored oils or the elusive “trendy” garnishes. There’s a secret weapon hiding in your pantry that can take your cooking from ordinary to extraordinary: the humble cashews.  

These creamy, kidney-shaped nuts offer a treasure trove of culinary possibilities.  They can add richness and depth to sauces, transform into luxuriously smooth dips, or create a delightful crunch when chopped and sprinkled on top.  

But cashews are more than just textural wonders. Their subtle nutty flavor complements a wide range of cuisines, from the vibrant curries of Southeast Asia to the creamy comfort food of the American South.  

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, cashews are an easy and affordable way to elevate your everyday meals.  

So, ditch the intimidation factor and join us on a delicious adventure as we explore the endless possibilities of this culinary secret ingredient!

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Knowing the Ingredient: Cashewnut

The cashew tree, scientifically known as Anacardium occidentale L., is a stunning evergreen member of the Anacardiaceae family. 

Native to Central and South America, it’s now a prized plantation crop in tropical regions like India. The tree itself is visually appealing, boasting fragrant, rose-colored flowers that bloom in clusters, followed by an enticing red fruit. 

Though cashew nuts originated in northeastern Brazil, they’re now cultivated extensively throughout the tropics, with India, Côte d’Ivoire, and Vietnam leading the way in global production.

The cashew tree produces a fascinating double act: the cashew “apple” and the cashew “nut.” 

cashews
The Cashew Apple

The apple, technically a false fruit, ripens to a golden reddish-yellow with an ovate shape. It boasts a pleasant, acidic flavor balanced by a touch of astringency. Dangling from this enticing fruit is the true cashew nut, a kidney-shaped treasure about 2.5 centimeters long. Inside a smooth, brown outer shell lies the edible kernel. 

However, hidden between the two shells lurks a danger: caustic oil. This oily layer necessitates a special processing step. The outer shell is carefully burned off to eliminate the irritant before the nut is even handled. 

Finally, the nut undergoes further roasting or boiling to inactivate other toxins and remove the remaining inner shell, revealing the delicious cashew we know and love.

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Also Read: Top 10 Benefits of Cashew Nuts [Scientifically Proven]

From Savory to Sweet: The Alluring Versatility of Cashews

Packed with nutrients, cashews offer a range of potential health benefits. Choosing the right type and preparing them well can unlock their full nutritional potential.

Cashews
How to Use Cashews in Different Dishes?

5 Best Recipes For Your Savory Adventures

1. CASHEW CHICKEN WITH NOODLES by Taste of Home:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of uncooked thick rice noodles (approximately 226.8 grams)
  • ¼  cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (approximately 16 grams)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (amount stays the same)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (approximately 453.6 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces (amount stays the same)
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (approximately 226.8 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • Toasted sesame seeds (amount stays the same)

Recipe:

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, and garlic.
  3. Cube the chicken breasts and sauté them in a skillet with peanut and sesame oil until cooked through.
  4. Add the onions and cook for one minute.
  5. Drain the noodles and stir them into the skillet with the chicken and onions.
  6. Finally, add the cashews and chili sauce and heat everything through.
  7. Top with toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Tip: Swap out the protein for a vegetarian option to make it vegetarian-friendly.

2. GINGER-CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD by Taste of Home:

Ingredients:

  • Salad Dressing
    • ½  cup cider vinegar (approximately 118.3 milliliters)
    • ½  cup molasses (approximately 118.3 milliliters)
    • ⅓  cup canola oil (approximately 79.5 milliliters)
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root 
    • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (approximately 10 milliliters)
    • 1 teaspoon salt 
    • ⅛  teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • Chicken
    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (approximately 170.1 grams each)
  • Salad
    • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 10 cups) 
    • 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
    • 1 cup shredded red cabbage 
    • 2 medium carrots, shredded 
    • 3 green onions, thinly sliced 
    • 2 cups chow mein noodles 
    • ¾  cup salted cashews toasted (approximately 170.1 grams)
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 

Recipe:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients: ½ cup cider vinegar, ½ cup molasses,⅓ cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root, 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  2. Pour ¾ cup of the marinade into a large shallow dish.
  3. Add chicken to the marinade and turn to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 3 hours.
  4. Cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade.
  5. Preheat broiler. Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade in the dish.
  6. Place the chicken in a 15x10x1-in baking pan and broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°.
  7. Cut the chicken into strips.
  8. Place spinach on a serving platter. Arrange chicken, oranges, cabbage, carrots, and green onions on top.
  9. Sprinkle it with chow mein noodles, cashews, and sesame seeds. Stir the reserved molasses mixture and drizzle it over the salad.
  10. Serve immediately.

Tips:

You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breasts.

If you don’t have chow mein noodles, you can substitute rice noodles or crispy wonton strips.

For a spicier salad, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the marinade.

3. CASHEW CURRY by Tarla Dalal:

Ingredients:

(For Malvani Gravy): 

(For Curry):

  • Cashews: ½ cup
  • Oil: ½ tbsp
  • Cumin seeds/ jeera: ¼ tsp
  • Hing: a pinch
  • Sugar: a pinch
  • Coconut milk: ¼ cup
  • Salt: to taste

Recipe:

(For Malvani Gravy):

  1. Heat a non-stick pan and dry roast red chilies and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, dry roast the remaining ingredients and set aside.
  3. Blend all the ingredients with 2 tbsp of water.
  4. Heat the Oil in a pan and saute the onions, till light brown.
  5. Add the prepared paste and saute for 30-40 seconds.
  6. Add ½ cup water and let it come to a boil while stirring occasionally.

(For Cashew Curry):

  1. Boil your cashews in ½ cup water, drain, and keep aside.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan and add jeera, hing, and malvani gravy; saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the seasonings, cashews, and coconut milk; mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve Hot.

4. VEGAN PASTA BAKE by BBC GoodFood:

Ingredients:

  • 500g macaroni (about 4 cups)
  • Vegan parmesan, grated, to serve

For the sauce:

  • 100g cashew nuts (about ¾  cup)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium floury potato, cut into chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped (about ½  cup)
  • 150g sweet potato or butternut squash, cut into chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 200ml plant-based milk (about ¾  cup)

To bake:

  • 150g cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)
  • 50g wholemeal breadcrumbs (about ½  cup)
  • A few basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 50g vegan cheese, grated (about ½  cup)

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. 
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cashew nuts, carrot, potato, onion, celery, sweet potato or butternut squash, garlic, dried oregano, mustard powder, and nutritional yeast (if using). 
  3. Pour in the plant-based milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. 
  4. Once the vegetables are tender, transfer the sauce mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.
  5.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked macaroni and the blended sauce. Mix well to coat the pasta evenly. 
  6. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish—scatter cherry tomatoes over the pasta mixture. 
  7. Sprinkle with wholemeal breadcrumbs, chopped basil leaves, and grated vegan cheese. 
  8. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy. Once baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. 
  9. Serve the vegan pasta bake hot, topped with grated vegan parmesan.

5. VEGAN SLOW-COOKER CURRY by Olive Magazine

Ingredients: 

  • 150g cashew nuts (about 1 cup)
  • 400g tin coconut milk (about 1 ⅔  cups)
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 20 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 round shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 175g tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 green chili, pricked with a fork a few times
  • 700g baby new potatoes (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 lime, ½  juiced, ½  wedged

Recipe:

  1. In a slow cooker set to low heat, combine cashew nuts, coconut milk, and ground turmeric. Cook for 2 hours. 
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil and add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and cinnamon sticks. 
  3. Fry until fragrant, for a few minutes. Reserve 2 heaped tablespoons each of chopped shallots and tomatoes for serving. 
  4. Add the remaining shallots and tomatoes to the slow cooker with the cashew coconut base. Also, add tempered spices, curry powder, green chili, and baby new potatoes. 
  5. Cook for another 3 hours until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Season with salt. 
  6. Mix the reserved shallots and tomatoes with lime juice. Scatter over the curry and serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Also Read: Dry-Fruit Powder for Kids: The Fuss-Free Way to Boost Nutrition

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5 Best Recipes For Those With a Sweet Tooth

1. CASHEW CLUSTERS by Taste of Home

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound white candy coating, coarsely chopped (approximately 453.6 grams)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (approximately 170.1 grams)
  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped (approximately 113.4 grams)
  • ⅓  cup milk chocolate chips (approximately 56.7 grams)
  • 2 cups salted cashew halves and pieces (approximately 298.6 grams)

(You can replace the chocolates with your favorite ones)

Recipe:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the candy coating, chocolate chips, and chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cashews.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets.
  4. Let stand at room temperature until set.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: to make the clusters extra special, you can drizzle them with melted white chocolate or decorate them with sprinkles before they set.

2. CASHEW COOKIES by Taste of Home:

Ingredients:

  • Cookies:
    • ½  cup butter, softened (1 stick or 113 grams)
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar (approximately 226 grams)
    • 1 large egg, room temperature
    • ½  tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour (approximately 240 grams)
    • ¾  teaspoon baking powder
    • ¾  teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼  teaspoon salt
    • ⅓  cup sour cream (approximately 80 grams)
    • 1 ¾  cups chopped cashews (approximately 231 grams)
  • Frosting:
    • ½  cup butter, cubed (1 stick or 113 grams)
    • 3 tbsp half-and-half cream
    • ¼  tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (approximately 453 grams)
    • Cashew halves (for garnish)

Note:

  • It’s important to remember that chopped cashews will have a different volume compared to whole cashew halves. The 1-3/4 cups measurement refers to chopped cashews, and this won’t translate directly to whole cashews.
  • The number of cashew halves needed for garnish depends on your preference. You can estimate based on how many cookies you’re making and how much decoration you want on each one.

Recipe:

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them lightly.
  3. Chop the cashews into the desired size.

Cookie Dough:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and packed brown sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed for 5-7 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the large, room-temperature egg until well combined.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well after each addition until just combined.
  6. Fold in the chopped cashews with a spatula.

Baking:

  1. Drop tablespoons of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving space between each cookie for spreading.
  2. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown.
  3. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting (Optional):

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the butter cool slightly.
  3. Add the half-and-half cream and vanilla extract to the cooled brown butter and stir to combine.
  4. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar to the butter mixture while beating with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and thick.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled completely, spread the frosting on top or pipe it using a decorating bag fitted with a desired tip.
  6. Top each frosted cookie with a cashew half as decoration.

3. KAJU KATLI/ CASHEW BARFI by Tarla Dalal:

Ingredients:

  • Cashews: 2 cups
  • Milk Powder: ¼ cup
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Ghee: for greasing

Recipe:

  1. Blend the cashews into a smooth powder.
  2. Combine the cashew powder with the milk powder in a deep bowl and keep aside.
  3. Combine 1 cup sugar with ½ cup water in a non-stick pan and make a sugar syrup, with one-string consistency.
  4. Lower the flame and add the powder mix, while stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
  5. Switch off the flame, transfer the mix to a ghee-greased plate, and set aside to cool.
  6. Once cooled, scrape out the mixture from the plate and knead in a smooth dough.
  7. Divide the dough into two and roll it out on a greased (upside down) plate. Make sure to lift the dough once in a while to avoid sticking.
  8. Repeat until it reaches your desired thickness.
  9. Cut into diamonds, scrape off from the plates, and store in an airtight container.

4. CASHEW BRITTLE by Blossom to Stem:

Ingredients:

  • 340 grams of roasted and salted cashews
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • ½  cup water
  • ⅓  cup of light corn syrup
  • ½  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½  tsp baking soda
  • ½  tsp vanilla extract
  • Flaky sea salt for finishing

Recipe:

  1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Alternatively, you can spray it with nonstick spray to prevent sticking.
  2. In a large saucepan, add the sugar, water, corn syrup, and butter.
  3. Measure out the baking soda and cashews and have them ready for use.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally and heat the mixture until it turns golden brown and reaches 300°F (149°C) on a candy thermometer. This should take about 10 minutes.
  5. Once the mixture reaches the desired temperature and color, remove the saucepan from the heat immediately.
  6. Quickly stir in the baking soda. Be prepared for the mixture to bubble up furiously when you add the baking soda.
  7. Immediately after stirring in the baking soda, add the vanilla extract and cashews to the mixture. Stir well to incorporate.
  8. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a silicone spatula or a long wooden or metal spoon to spread it into an even layer. Press down firmly, especially during the first minute or two, but be cautious as the mixture will be extremely hot.
  9. Once spread out, sprinkle sea salt evenly over the top of the mixture.
  10. Allow the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes on the baking sheet.
  11. Once cooled, break the brittle into pieces using your hands or a knife.
  12. Store the brittle in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

5. CACAO-CASHEW-DATE-BANANA BARS by Olive Magazine:

Ingredients:

  • 35g raw cacao powder (about ⅓  cup)
  • 180g (about 10 dates) dates, chopped and pitted
  • 60ml nut or coconut oil (about ¼  cup)
  • 240g cashews (about 1 ¾  cups)
  • 1 ½  tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g (about 3 bananas) bananas, mashed
  • Coconut flakes, for sprinkling

Recipe:

  1. Turn your oven on to 160°C (320°F). Line a baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine the pitted dates, cacao powder, melted coconut oil, cashews, vanilla extract, and banana. Blitz the mixture until it becomes smooth and well combined.
  3. Scrape the processed mixture into the prepared baking tin. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the tin. Sprinkle your desired toppings (coconut flakes in this case) on top of the mixture.
  4. Bake the raw chocolate cashew bars for 40 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch when you press them gently. Let the bars cool completely in the tin before slicing them.
  5. Once cool, slice the bars into squares or desired shapes. Store the raw chocolate cashew bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Also Read: 20 Best Saffron Recipes Around The World You Must Try

Health Benefits of Adding Cashew Nuts to Your Diet

Here are some potential benefits of eating cashews based on the article (Are Cashews Good for You? Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides by Healthline):

  • Weight management: Cashews, despite being calorie-dense, may aid in weight management due to their protein and fiber content which can promote satiety.
  • Blood sugar control: The presence of fiber and healthy fats in cashews can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Heart health: The monounsaturated fats and antioxidants in cashews contribute to a healthy heart by potentially lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Bone health: While cashews contain minerals like magnesium and manganese that are important for bone health, the article doesn’t mention if there’s a direct link between cashew consumption and improved bone health.
  • Blood pressure: The article mentions cashews may help with blood pressure regulation, but doesn’t specify the exact mechanisms behind this potential benefit.

The article also mentions that cashews are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds.

  • Vitamins and minerals: Cashews are a good source of copper, magnesium, and manganese, which are important for energy production, brain health, immunity, and bone health.
  • Antioxidants: Cashews contain antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing inflammation and potentially protecting against diseases. They are particularly rich in polyphenols and carotenoids, two classes of antioxidants also found in other tree nuts.

Cashew Nutrition Powerhouse:

(per 1 ounce / 28 grams)

  • Energy Boost: 157 calories for sustained energy.
  • Protein Power: 5 grams, similar to cooked meat.
  • Healthy Fat Champion: 12 grams of fat, mostly unsaturated for heart health.
  • Fiber Friend: 1 gram of fiber for digestive health.
  • Mineral Marvel:
    • Copper: 69% of the Daily Value (DV)
    • Magnesium: 20% of the DV
    • Manganese: 20% of the DV
  • Vitamin Vault:
    • Vitamin K: 8% of the DV
    • Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
    • Thiamine: 10% of the DV
  • Low Sugar: Contains minimal sugar for a guilt-free snack.

According to the article, while cashews are a nutritious food, there are a few downsides to keep in mind:

  • High sodium and fat content: Roasted or salted cashews can be high in added sodium and unhealthy fats. Opting for unsalted, dry-roasted cashews is a healthier alternative.
  • No improvement in digestion from soaking: Soaking cashews overnight, a common practice, doesn’t necessarily improve digestibility as per the article.
  • Nut allergies: People with tree nut allergies may also be allergic to cashews.

Overall, cashews can be a healthy addition to your diet, but be mindful of the type you choose and avoid overconsumption.

Also Read:

The Best Dry Fruits List to Enhance Your Health [Top 10]

The Tastiest Recipes to Make a Dried Fruit Salad

Healthiest Dry Fruits List to Strengthen Your Body

Kashmirica brings you the finest Kashmiri dry fruits to indulge in the luxury provided by the valley of Kashmir itself. Enjoy!

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