Creamy cashews

So many delicious recipes include cream, whether it’s to top of a delicious roasted tomato soup, a creamy mushroom sauce for fish or just a simple pouring cream for apple pie or crumble. Thank goodness for the humble cashew nut which when ground down makes a tasty cream alternative, although I’ve had to put up with many sniggers from my teenage son and husband when I say it’s nut cream!! Of course, if you have a cashew nut allergy, I’m sorry this is not for you.

Back in the UK, soya cream is readily available but always has a slight soya flavour and tends to be sweetened. I’ve not found it in the shops of Bangalore, so really wanted to find another alternative – this is so easy too. All you need, apart from cashews, is a food processor that has a small nut or coffee bean attachment. Luckily this are easy to find here, as traditional Indian recipes involve a lot of grinding and mincing. My food processor has been one of my best purchases here (my gorgeous coffee table being the best!) and probably used more than anything else in the kitchen. Apparently this also works with blanched almonds, but I’ve not tested that one out.

Cashew nut cream recipe
100g cashews
150-300 mls warm water
maple syrup to taste, lemon rind – both optional
Place the cashew nuts in the grinder and whizz them until they form a fine paste. You now have two options – either transfer the paste to a separate bowl and beat in the water to form a thick cream, or add to the grinder and combine.

If you want a sweeter cream, add some honey but I tend not to as cashews have a natural sweetness of their own and the honey can dominate the flavour. Same for the lemon rind if you want a tarter cream.
If you are using the cream for a cooked sauce, add at the end just before serving, warming it through but not boiling as the cream tends to separate a bit – this can happen with coconut cream or milk if you’re not careful too.

Random cashew facts
Cashew nuts are biologically seeds, although we use them as nuts in cooking. Pub quiz fact – cashews are native to Northern Brazil but were introduced to India in Goa by the Portugeuse and they have since spread throughout South East Asia. We saw cashew nut trees on a trip to Goa. I had never really thought about how they grow so was fascinated (sadly so!) by their duality. First there is the flower which grows into a cashew apple; the cashew nut then grows at the end of the cashew apple in a harder case. Apparently the flesh of the cashew apple is really delicate so doesn’t travel well – it’s used in Goa to make Feni, a seriously strong, completely gross alcohol that must be guaranteed to give you gut rot! I tried it once, never again! The brown outer shell of the cashew nut contains chemical irritants so have to be handled carefully. Best get your cashews ready pealed in a bag off the shelf!!