My recent trip to Auroville was very fruitful, quite literally. With summer fruits abounding, people freely offered us many fruits. Freebie fruits earned were: Jackfruit, Papaya and Cashew nuts. But this post is mostly about cashew nuts.
Auroville, is dotted with many organic farms that grow cashew nuts, among other things. With the recent media attention on the deadly endosulphan usage on cashew nut trees, I believe Auroville's cashews are prized nuts. But in Auroville, they do not seem to think so; cashew nuts strewn on the road, probably never to be picked, were a common sight. With the realization that the fallen fruit would probably rot, I picked up a handful.
Now for some facts. There are two parts to the cashew fruit: the soft cashew apple and the hard cashew nut. The actual cashew kernel that we eat is the "seed " found inside a hard shell. In Goa, the cashew apple pulp is fermented to make a drink called "Feni". Though cashew nuts are relished all over the world, cashew apples are not so popular, in part because they aren't easily transportable. Vietnam, India and Brazil are the top cashew producers.
|Red Ripe Cashew Apple|
I've never cracked open cashew nuts before so I called my mother. Having grown up in a house full of cashew trees, she knows how to extract them. She explained to me the traditional method of roasting them. All the fallen cashew nuts are picked up, usually by kids and placed in a pile of palm leaves. The pile is then lit and an adult turns the cashews around constantly with a long stick, to avoid scorching them. Strict adult supervision is needed as an oil is released; this oil is rather toxic and can easily catch fire. Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) is a highly allergenic oil that can cause severe, even life-threatening reactions.
|My Cashew Kernel Extraction Kit|
|Tough Nuts to Crack: Crushed Cashew Nuts|
Here is another picture. Though it does look like a nut, it is the tangy Tamarind; another fruit I rescued from the ground.The tamarind shell breaks easily with just a little pressure. Even a kid can do this, which is nice because tart tamarind is a hit with children.Tamarind is derived from Arabic "Tamar-E-Hind" literally meaning Dates from India. Tamarind is used almost daily in South Indian cooking. In fact, India is both the largest producer and consumer of Tamarind in the world.
|Tamarind: Fruit, Seed and Shell|