One must have diwali snack in our house is Masala Kaju- deep fried cashews coated in a spicy tangy masala. It is best if you freshly roast and grind the spices. Also taste the masala and adjust the profiles to your liking. We likes ours tangy and hot.
This recipe has slowly evolved since I have been making it for years. It is a great snack to have around the house when guests are regularly visiting (though that might not be the case this year) however we can treat ourselves. No? My kids love these especially the little one,I reduce the chilli powder for her though. These cashew nibbles go well with drinks and in general a huge hit in our house during the festive season.
The recipe is very easy and its as quick as mixing some spices and tossing with fried cashews. I have never tried roasting the cashews, a little indulgence on festivals is totally acceptable and I make them during that time mostly.
- ½ tablespoon cumin seeds (yield about 1 tablespoon roasted cumin powder)
- 2 cloves
- ½ tablespoon anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder
- 1.5 teaspoon extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder)
- 1 teaspoon kala namak (black salt)
- 1 tbsp chaat masala
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- fresh ground black pepper (about ½ tsp)
- 400 gms raw whole cashews
- oil for frying
Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and cloves in a skillet on low heat taking care not to burn or over roast the spices (that will make them bitter). Once roasted, grind to a powder.
Clean your spice grinder and separately, grind the anardana and fennel seeds. I find that the flavor profile of spices is much more promenient if you grind them separately and then mix.
Take a medium bowl and mix together all fresh ground spices along with the rest of the spices listed under ingredients. Taste the masala, it should be sharp and on the saltier side, adjust any spices to your liking. Set the masala aside.
In a heavy bottom kadai, add about 3 cups of oil. I use sunflower oil. Warm the oil on low medium heat, it will take about 4-5 minutes. We dont want the oil to be very hot. Start adding the cashews when the oil is just little warm.Add the cashews all at once or you can do so it in batches. It is okay to overcrowd the oil, since the nuts are dried, they won't become soggy.
Once the cashews have been added to oil, let the cashews slowly fry in oil, keep on stirring in between so that they dont burn. Slowly the cashews will heat up and start getting crispy. Do not turn up the heat, it takes a while to fry up the cashews but this way they are properly crisped.
Once the cashews are visibly light golden in color, using a slotted spoon, take them out in a bowl. Do not drain on a paper towel, however remove as much oil as possible when you are taking out from the oil. If your remove all the oil from cashews and if they will be dry, masala won't stick to them.
Immediately, while the cashews are still warm, start adding the masala, I start by adding about 3 tablespoons at first and mix nicely with a spoon to coat all the cashews in spices. Taste and add more masala if you wish. You might have leftover masala, you can store it and sprinkle it on anything - from chaat, kababs to salads to pakoras.
Let the cashews cool down and store them in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.