For those who were disappointed of not seeing new recipes, here, for a long time since my last post; I am extremely sorry. I was unimaginably busy with my two toddlers and my grad studies. Let’s say, now on, I am back in the story until my next difficult time block in life. Just for your information, I really enjoy working on Rasakama and I don’t think I would ever stop continuing this. So, always stay tuned for new recipes.
Ok, let’s get to our thing. Sri Lankan traditional cashew nut curry is a mild and tempting dish that is quite famous in Sri Lanka. Frankly, this is another letter of the standard alphabet of Sri Lankan cuisines that surely been prepared at most of the special occasions as weddings and other important events. Before I begin, I would like to talk about few things regarding this dish. Traditionally, this dish was prepared with fresh baby-cashews (unripen). However, today, it is quite difficult to get hold of unripen cashew nuts like back in the good old day. Specially, if you are living away from Sri Lanka or any other country that cultivate cashews, trust me, it’s not just difficult but surely almost impossible to find them. Anyways, don’t worry, with a simple step you can convert the commonly found dried cashews to the same quality of the unripen ones. All you have to do is, soak the cashews in lukewarm water for about 2 hours before starting to cook.
- 300 – 400g of raw dried cashews (Most preferably unripen-cashews, if available.)
Prep: wash the cashew nuts and soak in lukewarm water and let it aside for around 2 hours or until they are well hydrated and turned to a soft and plum-like texture. Also, keep in your mind to avoid keeping in water for more than 2 ½ hours as fermentation may occur and then, it would harm the taste as well as the texture. If anyhow, even after 2 hours if you will feel like they are not well hydrated, don’t worry, all you have to do is add more liquid (water) and cook the curry for a longer period of time. I will explain this clearly, with specifics, in a while.
Remember, it is important to separate each or most of the cashews into halves. This is really easy once you soak them in water. Usually, after about two hours in water, most of them would separate by themselves and for the rest; all you have to do is gently squeezes them you’re your fingertips, before draining out the water. It’s that simple.
- 2tsps of raw curry powder
- 5 – 6 cloves of garlic – diced
- A small piece of ginger- chopped
- ¼ of a medium sized onion – chopped
- 2 green chilies – chopped
- 4-5 dried black pepper whole-seeds (optional)
- ½ a tsp of turmeric powder
- ½ tsp of black pepper powder
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom seeds
- Some curry leaves
- A small piece of a pandan leaf (optional)
- 4-5 of very light coconut milk (diya kiri) or even just water
- 2 cups of thicker coconut milk (miti kiri)If using condensed coconut milk, dilute it with water at 1:2 ratio or 1: 2.5 ratio (Con.coco:water). It really depends on the thickness of the product you have. Just make sure that its consistency is almost the same or only slightly thicker than 3.25% regular cows’ milk that we consume. And that not thicker or thinner than that consistency.
- Salt to taste
Primary method – country style (It is important to read this base method to use the other two methods)
In a cooking pot, combine all ingredients except the black pepper (both whole-seeds and the powder) and thicker-coconut-milk. Remember, if you are using baby-cashews or your cashews seem to be well hydrated, use 4 cups of lighter-coconut-milk or water. If anyhow, your cashews are not well hydrated; used 5 cups of the same. When you add salt, start with around ½ tsp and adjust for your taste at the end. Ok, back to our process. Now, start cooking the content under medium-to-high temperature. Stir occasionally during the first several minutes and then do frequently once the liquid level starts to drop at faster pace. Then, once the liquid level goes significantly down and when you find the cashews are softer; bring in the thicker coconut milk and lower the heat a bit. Then, simmer under medium temperature level until the gravy reaches a somewhat thicker consistency. Remember, back at the point right before you brought the thicker coconut milk, if you ever would’ve felt that the cashews are not softer enough, you can add little bit of water and cook for several more minutes. But remember, if you are using baby-cashews or well hydrated ones, you really don’t have to think about this. Finally, prior almost close to taking the pot from the heat, add the pepper and adjust salt.
Method 2 – Tempered version
During this method, heat the oil under moderate heat level and start tempering the onions, cardamom and curry leaves. Continue frying for about 50seconds and lower the heat to low-level and bring in the curry powder and mix quickly and carefully pour in the lighter-coconut milk or water. It is now that you should bring the rest of the ingredients, except the pepper and thicker-coconut-milk. Now follow the same steps as above until the end.
Note: do not add the cashews to warm oil directly. This will make their outer layer sealed and prevent the giving the curry its cashew-starchy flavor and even making the cashews further softer.
Do not fry garlic. In Sri Lankan cooking, there is a traditional art of handling its ingredients depending on the situational prioritizations of either more into taste or the taste plus more into health benefits. According to traditional Sri Lankan medicine and Ayurveda, cashews tend to increase gas in stomach (“Vatha”) and garlic is used to counteract that mechanism. So, here, garlic is only boiled to get its extracts at the maximum level to the curry.
Method 3 – Fast track
This is either if you can’t or have forgotten to soak the raw dried cashews prior cooking. Here, you just have to add few more cups of water at the first stage and boil them with the same ingredients for little longer until they reach the expected texture. Personally, I cook for about 30 minutes before I bring in the thicker coconut milk. In fact, I recommend you to use only water with this method, at the first stage. The rest of the steps and concepts are the same. Remember, you can make both above types with the said exception.