In the 16thc CE when the Portuguese found the tree with twisted and bent trunks and branches and a strange kind of fruit in
The Portuguese planted the cashew tree in
The nut of this tree is a bit of a nutty business. What is called ‘cashew apple’ (and is commonly believed to be the fruit of the tree) is actually a false fruit. It is a developed part of the receptacle of the flower of a cashew tree. The real fruit is the kidney shaped drupe that is found on the bottom end of the cashew apple. It is the kernel inside it that is the most valuable part of the cashew tree, ‘the cashew nut’.
Cashew nut is world famous as a cocktails and any time snack. It is also popular in confectionary and baking and in different cuisines. It is supposed to be a health food. Cashew nuts are usually available in salted and roasted packing. Those who wish to avoid salt can buy un-roasted nuts and roast them without salt if so desired.
In cooking the nuts are some times used whole, sometimes broken and in certain cases, ground. One point to note here – the grading, and therefore pricing, of cashew nuts are based on size and colour. Except when whole nut is a must, cheaper broken nuts which are available in the market would suffice for culinary purposes.
Incidentally, among the Christians of Kerala there is a tender cashew nut curry which is made only on Good Friday. I have written about it in my post Memories: Passion Week, half a century back . Also suitable for the Indian palate is tender cashew nuts sautéed with onions and spices. The nut is taken when it is a little above this age:
The cashew apple (marañón) though it looks very attractive, has a strange taste which some people do not like. Still squashes and wines are made from it in different countries. The best use is to make a potent alcoholic drink called ‘Feni’ with it as the Goans do. When you get a chance, ask a Goan about Feni.
A liquid which contains anacardic acids is extracted from the shell of the cashew nuts – cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL). This is effective against gram-positive bacteria. Some parts of the cashew tree are also used in tribal medicine.
Cashew cultivation can be profitable with the new hybrid varieties .
Photos: Top left and second last from Wikimedia Commons. The rest TP/AT.
Click on photos to enlarge.