Kaju Masala (Cashewnut Masala)
I grew up in Chennai (Madras) aka Vegetarian food heaven We Chennaites love our food. When I grew up there were so many food joints that served local fare and almost all of them served ‘North Indian’ food too, which was kind of exotic back then. Kids when taken to a restaurant would order chapathis (those days, chapathis came with chef’s choice of side dishes and we didn’t have to scratch our head abut what to order along to go with them). Years later I realized that none of these places served up authentic North Indian food but only, South Indianized versions of them – atleast the places I had been to. Yet we loved those South Indianized versions so much that most of us prefer it to the authentic one.
Another thing synonymous with Chennai is ‘Hotel Saravana Bhavan’. This place was/is quite popular in and well known for its quality, taste and price. Families go to HSB for special occasions. Our family had this tradition of going there for every celebration from Birthdays to Wedding days. It is here, my mom introduced me to Kaju Masala. The dish was served after a short while – a small bowl of hot steamy, creamy, rich spicy looking masala with cashews all over. It was very rich. Not only that, it tasted so good, that I can still remember the taste. I am not sure whether HSB served an authentic version but I loved the dish so much from there on.
Time passed.. I got married and being the new bride, I cooked everything I could ever think of. One day, I tried my hand at Kaju Masala hoping to get close to the HSB version. That was version 1 that I posted here. It tasted great but nothing like the original. Recently, I found a cashew Masala recipe on Chef Mallika Badrinath’s 100 delicious curries book and tried her way after tweaking it a bit. It turned out so well and was almost like HSB’s. So here is Chef Mallika Badronath’s recipe that I tweaked. This is from Chef Mallika Badrinath’s 100 Delicious Vegetarian Curries
Chennai celebrates its 375th Bday. Wishing Chennai a ‘Happy Madras Day’. My dear Madras, wherever I am, my heart is still with u. You can take the me out of Madras but not the Madras out of Me
Note: This is not the exact recipe of the HSB Kaju Masala. To try the original, you have to just head there.
Onion 1 big
Cashew nut 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 pinch
Vinegar 1 tsp
Red chillies 2 – 4
Garlic 6 cloves
Milk 1 cup &
Coconut 1/4 cup
Coconut milk 1 cup
Tamarind juice from a small pinch of tamarind
Jaggery 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil to saute
1. Grind together cumin, mustard, garlic, red chillies, turmeric powder along with vinegar
2. In a saucepan, heat oil. Once oil is hot, add finely chopped onion and saute till its golden
3. Add the ground Masala, jaggery and saute for 3 mins or till the onions are completely coated with the Masala
4. Grind the onions and the Masala together. The original recipe didn’t grind the onions but I prefer it this way.
5. Pour the ground mixture back into the saucepan. Add cashews , salt and 1 cup milk and coconut powder. Let it boil till the cashews are soft. You may notice that the cashews have enlarged in size. The original recipe used coconut milk instead of milk and coconut.
6. Add tamarind water and let the Masala boil in med low heat for 5 mins
7. Serve by garnishing with coriander leaves along with chapathis or rice