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Sunday, December 5, 2010


Cashew nuts, or caju in Urdu, are the seeds of the cashew nut tree (Anacardium occidentale) and are unusual as they grow under the fruit of the tree, not inside it. The fruit is highly perishable and decays after 24 hours of being picked, so is only available in the localities where the tree grows. The fruit is highly prized and used in liqueurs, jams and for preserving. There is an outer and inner shell protecting the seeds and between the two layers is a caustic oil which can blister the skin. This is why the cashew nuts are only sold shelled.
Cashew Tree
    The oil has been used to remove corns from the toes, warts, and ringworm as well as in the treatment of cancerous ulcers and elephantiasis in the past. It was used in India to rub on floors to keep white ants at bay. Apparently it is/was also used on the face to strip away the skin so that new skin could grow. This oil is known as cashew balm or cardol and is now used in varnish and insecticides. It is actually called uluresin.
    The cashew nut tree is native to Peru and Brazil, but Portuguese explorers introduced it to India, Mozambique and Tanzania, in the 16th century. Brazil, India, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria are now the main exporters of the cashew nut. The tree doesn’t grow very tall, and looks a little like a walnut tree.
cashew flower
    The leaves, bark and apple (actually more pear-shaped) of the tree are believed to have antibacterial properties, considered aphrodisiac, and used to reduce temperatures in fevers, as well as to stop diarrhoea. They are also used to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure in areas where the trees grow. The nuts have diuretic properties and contain the minerals copper, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, iron and tryptophan so have benefits for the heart. They also contain vitamin C and some of the B-complex vitamins.
Cashew Nuts
    In modern medicine the nuts are used in creams and gels as astringents, and trials have shown that they are useful in fighting bacteria which causes tooth decay, and tooth abscesses.
    Cashews have much the same health benefits as walnuts and pistachios but should be eaten in moderation. They are good mixed with other nuts and can be eaten roasted, salted or as they come.

2 cups unsalted cashew nuts
2-3 tbsps vegetable oil (olive oil is good)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Blend the ingredients together to a smooth paste. Add more oil a tsp at a time, if necessary.
Put in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve as a dip or on toast etc. It’s good to spread on celery sticks too.
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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