Friday, September 14, 2007

Nuts about nuts: Roasted cashews and roasted almonds

Nuts are the best to snack on as opposed to fried snacks, chips and crisps. Yes, they are not low fat but the health benefits of consuming them far outrun the fact that they are calorie laden. As opposed to fried pakodas and chewda, nuts have the good fats (mostly monounsaturated and poly unsaturated fats). Nuts are also one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium.

One of the most unexpected nutritional discoveries of the 1990s was that the frequent eating of nuts appears to dramatically improve health. In particular, nut eating greatly lowers the risk of heart disease. Read more here.
This past winter (in Africa: June and July), I kept a regular supply of roasted cashew nuts and almonds on the snack rack. Our favourite nuts to roast, salt and masalafy are cashews and almonds, although we occasionally roast walnuts and pecans too. These nuts can be plain roasted and kept for sweet dishes too. The savoury ones also act as ready made garnishes and additions to things like upma, kaju pulav, shahi paneer. With tea, a handful is enough, they are not to be munched on like popcorn! We get already roasted peanuts in the shops here and we rarely eat them as a snack.

Cashews, a native of eastern Brazil, was brought to the Indian coast of Goa and Kerala by the Portuguese and hence the name ‘Kaju’ for cashews in Hindi is derived from the Portuguese word for the fruit from the cashew nut tree.

Read the cute story about how cashewnut got is name, more like how Sarah was told so, from one of my favourite blogs.

Eating a daily handful of almonds a day may lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, see more of the benefits here
My dad swears by the benefits of having almonds every day. Amongst his daily routine, is to soak a handful of almonds before going to bed. In the morning, he drains them and pockets them before leaving for work, and peels and pop a couple in his mouth whilst he’s going about his business; they are his all-day any-time snack!!

During winter he diligently adds a tsp of ‘badam rogan’ (almond oil) in the cup of milk he has before going to bed. (Somehow I could never do this). He recommends this ‘medicine’ as a daily tonic especially in winter and to build strength, in people trying to recover their health (for example from major surgery or childbirth, etc).

To roast Cashews and Almonds

What you need:

Any amount of nuts you wish you roast. (Try other types other than cashews and almonds, and let me know how it came out).

- here I used 500g cashews and 500g almonds.
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (you may try roasting them absolutely dry too; the light oil coating allows the spices to stick to the nuts nicely; or you may add more to roast them better and drain them on a sieve or paper towel to remove the extra oil)
- You combination of favourite spices (salt and black pepper / salt and cayenne pepper / salt, chilli powder and dhania powder, etc)
(Ive used salt and black pepper in both instances)
What you need to do:

- In a large wok, heat the oil to smoking point (very hot).
- Add the nuts and keep tossing to coat the oil evenly on all the nuts.
- Add your preferred spices, and keep tossing and turning, until the nuts change colour to become golden. With almonds, the colour change is subtle to the eyes but evident to the olfactory nerves (smell).
- Cool and let them rest on a strainer, so that any of the extra oil drips away.
- Store in an airtight jar, and use as appropriate.

Some recent nutty recipes that I have drooled over and want to try out:

- Arun Shanbhag’s Almond Pista Milk
- Asha’s Microwave Badam Burfi
- Evolvingtastes’s Very Forgiving Nut Bread
- Sig’s Date and Pecan Pudding
- Kanchana's Badam Kheer


Rachna said...

gosh i hate the way blogger distorts my pictures, no matter how high res I keep them...grrrrrrr

Anjana's World said...

Thats fine rachna...they do look very inviting anyway...:)..I thought this was for me..:(...anyway great way to enjoy nuts...

TBC said...

I like roasted nuts.:-)
Rachna, do you not edit the pics using some photo-editing software first before uploading them? That's how most of the bloggers do it.

Richa said...

hey, ur screenful of nuts is so inviting :) crunch-munch!!
mannu thuadda murabba bhi yaad e, odech tussi badam paya si! huney thuaddi pic vekkhi :)

evolvingtastes said...

Fabulous post. You make a simple thing look so exciting with the magic of your words. Nuts are also easy to roast in the microwave - a Madhur Jaffrey trick that has been very handy. Among other nutty things, I like to make roasted pecans with a little sugar, just until the sugar melts and creates a candy coating. I use them in salads or eat as a snack.

As a bonus, I see you have been drooling over my recipe too, how wonderful.

Asha said...

Rachna, I agree.A handful nuts everyday is very beneficial for us.We do get Cashews and Almonds cheaply here,good for us.Both looks yummy, my son loves lightly salted Cashews.
My grandfather has many Cashew trees in the coffee estate back home,we loved eating cashew fruits too!:)
Have a great weekend R, hugs.

musical said...

I love roasted cashews and also enjoy soaked badam :). And the pictures look just fine, Rachna, really! Roasted nuts are great, especially in winters!

Sharmi said...

I too roast them and powder them, mix it with milk to give my Son.

Jyothi said...

Hi, roasted nuts....hhhhmmmm crunchy. Looks yum....

Mansi Desai said...

I love nuts myself!! they are healthy when eaten in moderation, and I just so enjoy the flavor!! check out my hazelnut-mocha-Nut coffee cake recipe on my blog:)

Jeena said...

Wow so many nuts! I love almond nuts , great post :)

indosungod said...

Rachna, so true of nuts, good to have a few handy to munch on. But the problem is once I start popping a few cashews the whole tin vanishes in a jiffy :)

Arun Shanbhag said...

Thank you Rachna for summarizing nicely the health benefits of nuts. I agree with you 100 %. A handful of almonds a day will certainly do you good.

I do have almond oil which I only use to rub on my arms and legs during the winters here :-) It does have a nice almondy aroma - should try it in the milk sometime. Thanks for the tip.

And nice tips on roasting cashews. I have a tin ful of plain kaju and will try spicing them up this weekend.

Have a wonderful Ganesh Chaturthi.

Arun Shanbhag said...

... and thanks for the plug for the Almond Pista Milk! :-)

Sig said...

oh wow, pictures look beautiful rachna... yeah I hate the way blogger distorts the pics too, try a third party photo sharing site... but your pics look just fine anyway...
great post... nuts are great... I roast them and make a salad out of it as a quickie snack... I had forgotten about the kashinettu story, :) thanks for pointing to sarah's blog, I loved it!

Cynthia said...

This is quite a nutty post! I know, I know, not cool :)

sra said...

The photos look fine, Rachna, actually fine is an understatement, they look positively enticing! My favourites are honey-roasted almonds, not to mention cashews.

Vcuisine said...

Hi Rachna, good info and I love nuts too. Viji

bee said...

rachna, i posted a comment here some days ago. it seems to never have registered. here it is again.

spiced, toasted nuts are our favourite snack - both j's and mine. however, i read that the more you cook nuts, the more likely you are to destroy the nutrients in thier essential oils. i deaaly, nut should be conumed raw or very lightly toasted. however, that's tough since they tend to go rancid.

the way your dad eats them is best - from a nutritional perspective.

A kitchen scientist & a white rat hubby!!! said...

nice blog...especially the healthy tips on nuts..thanks for sharing.. said...


Your pics look really good. I sometimes crop them to a size that works better in blogger.

I loved your dance pictures! And roasted nuts look awesome, I tried in the oven but I think this method looks better. Will try this out.

That was a sweet story you wrote on my blog about you and M. Really nice!


Hima said...

I too love almonds. They are great as snacks or rather time pass munching.

lakshmi said...

"Yes, they are not low fat but the health benefits of consuming them far outrun the fact that they are calorie laden. "

Couldn't agree more - thankfully there are some foods that yummy, calorie laden and yet healthly!!! ;)

in my experience (not that my pics are great), flickr's image processing doesn't distort pics one bit.

Padma said...

nice informative post Rachana....i like the way ur dad eats, should squeeze that habit in my daily regime. And am sad to see prashant win the title-II3

Mishmash ! said...

I roast nuts in smaller quanities and usually resort to the microwave method but this way it tastes better, I know :)


Latha Narasimhan said...

I love nuts! All pictures were quite good rachna! only it took time to load!:)) Looks like you dint see my dry fruit laddoos!:))

Rachna said...

anjana - thank you

tbc - yeah i edit them in adobe imageready

richa - haanjitussi achi onhadi yaad dilayi, thank u

evolving - thank u so much for your kind words, and love what you do with the pecans , great idea!!

asha - thank u

Rachna said...

musy - thank u, yah love nuts in winter

sharmi - thats a very good idea, i will remember to do that for my son too

jyothi - thank you

mansi - thats a swell cake!!

jeena - thank you

Rachna said...

indosungod - i know it happens sometimes :)

arun - same to you, will respond to your mail soon!!

sig - thanks for the rocks...thanks again...

cynthia - its ok!!!

sra - thank you, honey roasting is a good idea

Rachna said...

viji - thank you

bee, really didnt know...thank you for the insight

kswrh - my pleasure

kanch - thanks so much for all the compliments

hima - yup

lakshmi, i love flickr, its hundred times better than blogger, thanks for all the compliments

padma - I know... Amit was so much better...and Chang too!!

mishmash - yeah this is just traditional

latha - hey lemme go and see them