Nutty delight



It is highly nutritious when eaten in small quantities

The cashew is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to north-eastern Brazil, where it is called by its Portuguese name Caju (the fruit) or Cajueiro (the tree). Originally spread from Brazil by the Portuguese, the cashew tree today can be found in all regions with a sufficiently warm and humid climate. Vietnam is now the largest producer of cashew nuts.Most cashew nuts labelled "raw cashew nuts" are not truly raw. They have been heat processed in order to remove the delicious nut from the toxic shell. In the 16th Century, Portuguese traders introduced it to India where it has more recently become an important export crop. Cashew trees produce both a fruit (apple) and a nut, and valuable oil can be drawn from the nutshell. Cashew provides essential fatty acids, B vitamins, fibre, protein, carbohydrate, potassium, iron and zinc. Cashew is high in saturated fat. Eaten in small quantities, it is highly nutritious. It has useful amounts of magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and copper. It also helps prevent anaemia. Now for a recipe.

Cashew nut and Banana Pie

Ingredients For crustChopped unsalted macadamia or cashew nuts: 1 cupFlaked unsweetened coconut: half cup
Light brown sugar: 2 tbsp
Egg white: 1
For custard filling
Egg yolk: 3
Cornstarch: 5 tsp
Granulated sugar: three-quarter cup
Milk: one and a half cup
Salt: quarter tsp
Unsalted butter, at room temperature: 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
Heavy or whipping cream: half cup
Bananas: 2Finely chopped macadamia or cashew nuts: half cupCrust1 cup chopped unsalted macadamia or cashew nuts1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut2 tablespoons light brown sugar1 egg whiteCustard Filling3 egg yolks5 teaspoons cornstarch3/4 cup granulated sugar1-1/2 cups milk1/4 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream2 bananas1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia or cashew nuts Preparation of crustCombine the nuts, coconut and brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Beat the egg white until stiff, and gently fold it into the nut mixture. Press the mixture evenly into an 8-inch pie plate, making sure the sides are thick (the crust will shrink while baking). Bake until the crust is lightly browned, can be baked up to 7 minutes. Remove the pie plate from the oven and allow it to cool (The crust will tighten as it cools Preparation of custardBeat the egg yolks in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Add the cornstarch and sugar, and mix well. Then stir in the milk, salt and butter. Cook the egg mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is bubbling and thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Whip the cream with mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled custard. Peel and slice one of the bananas, and arrange the slices evenly on the bottom of the reserved crust. Spoon the filling into the crust, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for another 2 hours. When you are ready to serve the pie, sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the top. Then peel and slice the remaining banana, and arrange the slices in a circle on top of the pie, with a few slices placed decoratively in the centre. Serve immediately.N. GOPI

Sous Chef, Taj Connemara

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