October 17, 2010
Is it just me or is the cashew underutilized? Underrated? Downright neglected, I say, which is a shame, given how delicious they can be.
I had never heard of Vadouvan spice before encountering this recipe and I’m still not sure how to pronounce it, though I am now aware that it’s a delicious fusion of French and Indian flavors, always involving garlic and shallots, a position I wholeheartedly support and that goes excellently well with the aforementioned nut.
You may need to head to the Indian grocery store or a gourmet grocery to get some of the spices listed here, but getting your hands on the ingredients is really the hardest part of the recipe. If you keep the ingredients on hand, as I plan to, and grind a double-batch of the spice mix, you’ll be minutes away from a rather addictive and happy-hour-suited snack.
Here in Houston, we’re lucky to be smack in the middle of a season that lends itself perfectly to patio sitting and al fresco dining, which frankly we feel we have earned since we suffered through a long, hot, and humid summer. So I’m betting I’ll bust out these cashews as sophisticated patio-sitting fare many times over.
source: David Grossman, chef at Branchwater Tavern here in Houston
My friend Ben, who receives the majority of my kitchen leftovers, would like you to know that these cashews will give you wicked garlic breath. But he also says that they are worth it.
1 cup raw cashews
1 shallot, peeled & very thinly sliced*
4 garlic cloves, peeled & very thinly sliced*
2-3 T Vadouvan spice (see below)
½ tsp. salt
Fry the garlic & shallots in a bit of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until brown & crisp. Remove & let them drain on a paper towel.
In the same pan, over medium heat, cook the cashews, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Drain these as well, then toss with the Vadouvan spice & top with fried garlic & shallots.
*Use a mandoline if you have one.
for the Vadouvan spice:
1 T cumin seeds
1 T fresh curry leaves or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. fenugreek seed
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. ground cardamom
¾ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
½ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder*
½ tsp. ground cloves
In a dry pan, toast the fenugreek, cumin and mustard seeds. Let cool & then combine with all other spices in a spice grinder and grind.
* If you can’t find this one, substitute ½ paprika & ½ cayenne