A popular ingredient finding its way into many Indian gravies, cashew – a plant originating from Brazil, is a nut high in minerals. Brought to India by traders, the cashew tree grows up to exceptional heights having a rather irregular trunk. Hanging from the branches are large juicy apples at the bottom of which are attached the cashew nut. Made available round the year, the nut has a great shelf life if stored properly.
The nut and the fruit, both have multiple uses. The nut, often known as the poor man’s plantation although now it is sold for steep prices, is used to make delectable and rich curries and also roasted and eaten dry. Back when nomads had no idea how to consume the fruit, the nut was discarded while the fruit was given more importance. A book written by SP Malhotra, World Edible Nuts Economy, points out, “Natives also knew of many medicinal uses for the apple juice, bark and caustic seed oil that were later exploited by the Europeans.”