Cashews in our A-Z - Cooking Index
The cashew nut has a very unusual growth habit. It grows on a small tree, dangling beneath a fleshy stalk known as the cashew apple, or cashew pear.
The smooth creamy-white kidney-shaped kernel is rich in vitamin A and has a high fat content. In Europe cashews are usually eaten dried, roasted and salted as a snack or in salads. Unsalted cashews are generally used for cooking and they're particularly popular in south Indian cuisine, used whole or ground and often added just before serving.
They're also used in Chinese cookery, in main dishes such as noodle salads and stir-fries. They're particularly good with chicken or prawn dishes and can be used in meat or vegetable stews or curries. Roughly chopped, they can be thrown in to rice dishes to add texture.
Cashews are thought to have originated in Brazil and were taken to India by Portuguese traders. The nut has a shell which contains an irritant oil that can burn human skin - hence cashews are never sold in their shells.