The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to northeastern Brazil but is now cultivated in many other tropical regions around the world. It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which includes mangoes, pistachios, and sumacs.
The cashew tree can grow up to 12-14 meters tall, and it has a short, usually crooked trunk with a wide-spreading canopy. The leaves are leathery, elliptical, and have a glossy surface. The fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney-shaped drupe that contains a single seed, the cashew nut, which is surrounded by a double-layered shell.
Cashews are a highly nutritious food and a rich source of several essential nutrients. Cashews include around 157 calories, 8.5 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat, of which there are 2 grams of saturated fat in a serving size of one ounce (28 grams). In addition, cashews are an excellent source of dietary fiber; around one gram of fiber may be found in a single serving of cashews.
In addition to the macronutrients that they contain, cashews are a good source of the micronutrients vitamins, minerals, and other trace elements. Copper is an important mineral that is involved in a variety of physiological processes, such as the creation of energy, the metabolism of iron, and the defense against free radicals, and these nuts and seeds are a good supply of this trace element. Cashews contain around 0.6 milligrams (mg) of the mineral copper, which is roughly 67% of the daily value advised for ingestion.
Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, which is another necessary element that plays a role in a wide variety of biochemical processes that occur inside the body. These processes include the maintenance of healthy nerve and muscle function, as well as the management of blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Cashews contain around 82 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per serving, which is roughly 20% of the magnesium that is recommended for daily consumption.
Additionally, cashews are an excellent source of other critical minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin K. Cashews are a nut that is native to South America. Phosphorus is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, while zinc plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system and in the healing of wounds. Vitamin K is an essential component in the process of blood clotting as well as the metabolism of bones.
The cashew nut has a long and interesting history that can be traced back to South America, where it is believed to have originated. It was first cultivated by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs who held the nut in high esteem for both its nutritional and medicinal properties. Cashews were used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including stomach and liver problems, and were even used as an antidote for snake bites.
Cashews were first introduced to other parts of the world by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The Portuguese explorers discovered cashews in Brazil and brought them to other Portuguese colonies such as Goa, India, and Mozambique. The cashew tree thrived in these new locations and became an important crop for the local communities. The Portuguese also introduced the technique of roasting cashews, which enhanced their flavor and made them more appealing.
The demand for cashews increased over time, leading to their global distribution. Brazil, India, Vietnam, and Nigeria are only a few of the modern-day producers of cashews. In addition to their obvious snack value, they also have culinary and baking applications.
Despite their popularity, cashews remain one of the more expensive nuts due to the labor-intensive process of harvesting and processing them. Cashews grow on the
bottom of a fruit known as a cashew apple, which is not only edible but also used to make juices and wines in some countries. The process of separating the cashew nut from the apple and the outer shell requires careful handling, as the outer shell contains a toxic oil that can cause skin irritation if not properly removed.
Overall, the history of the cashew nut is a fascinating one that highlights its importance to both ancient civilizations and modern cultures. From its humble origins in South America to its widespread popularity today, the cashew nut has proven to be a versatile and valuable crop that continues to be enjoyed by people around the world.
Here are some of the potential health benefits of cashews:
- Heart health: Cashews are beneficial because of the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats they contain, which can lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and the likelihood of developing heart disease.
- Improved digestion: Cashews are a good source of dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion and promote healthy bowel movements.
- Boosted immune system: Cashews contain several important minerals, including zinc and magnesium, which can help strengthen the immune system and protect against illnesses.
- Reduced inflammation: Cashews contain antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and arthritis.
- Improved bone health: Cashews are a good source of several minerals, including magnesium, which is essential for bone health and can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Weight management: Cashews are relatively low in calories and high in protein and healthy fats, which can help promote satiety and prevent overeating, making them a good snack option for those trying to manage their weight.
- Look for cashews that are plump, uniform in size, and have a creamy yellow color.
- Avoid cashews that are discolored, have spots, or are shriveled.
- Store cashews in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like the pantry.
- Cashews can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to extend their shelf life.
- If stored properly, cashews can last for up to six months in the pantry, up to one year in the refrigerator, and up to two years in the freezer.
- Roasted cashews have a shorter shelf life than raw cashews, and should be consumed within a few weeks of opening.
1 cup cashews
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup water
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
Coriander leaves for garnishing
- Soak the cashews in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Let them crackle.
- Add onions and sauté till they turn translucent.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Sauté for a minute.
- Add tomatoes and cook till they turn soft.
- Add all the spices and salt. Mix well and cook for a minute.
- Add cashews and water. Mix well and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup of paneer cubes
2 tablespoons of ghee
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 green cardamom pods
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon of coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of water
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnishing
- Soak the cashews in water for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Drain the water and blend the cashews into a smooth paste.
- Heat the ghee in a pan and add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods. Let them crackle.
- Add chopped onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown.
- Add coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, and red chili powder. Mix well.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they turn mushy.
- Add the cashew paste and water. Mix well.
- Add salt to taste and let the korma simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add paneer cubes and let them cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.