Don’t look surprised at the title of this dish. Kajuchi Bhaaji is an absolute delicacy in my family and even though cashew-nuts are very famous along the coastal line of Maharashtra and in Goa – this dish is not found easily. This is my mother’s speciality and I’m yet to master the taste her dish has but I guess I will never get to her level because as they say the magic of cooking rests in the hands of the cook.
Mom makes 3 varieties of this dish – in Marathi ”sukka” kalvan (dry gravy), the curry and the curry modified with the addition of egg. Today I’ll share the recipe of the sukka kalvan which is my favourite.
The cashewnuts are not the dry or salted ones that you will generally get in the market. These are taken fresh from the fruit and very popularly known as “Ole Kaju” (wet cashewnuts). They are dried in the sun along with the skin. You can store them in a cool storage for 5-6 months. They are available only for 2 months in April and May, so I pick up in bulk and stock them at home so that I can make the dish over the next 6 months.
Onions – 4 medium sized fine chopped
Turmeric powder– 2 tea spoons
Kala Masala (Black masala) – 4 tablespoons. This is a Maharashtrian masala which is easily available in stores and mainly used for all non-veg curries.
Coconut Paste – 3-4 table spoons
Salt to Taste
Soak the cashewnuts in water for 8-10 hours (preferably overnight or in the morning if you plan to make the dish in the evening). Peel of the skin before making the dish. Split the cashewnuts from the top into 2 equal parts as shown
Heat oil in pan, about 3-4 tablespoons and add finely chopped onions to it. Sauté till the onions are dark brown and the oil begins to ooze out from the sides.
Add turmeric powder and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cashewnuts and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Then add the Kala Masala powder in the given proportion and salt to taste. Add 2 cups of boiling water and let the curry cook on medium flame.
While the onions are turning dark brown and the cashewnuts are getting cooked – prepare the coconut paste on the side as below.
Roast dry grated coconut – 1 cup till medium brown in a pan. Then dry roast 1 chopped onion and 1-2 garlic petals in a pan. Roast till the mixture turns light brown. Then grind all 3 ingredients into a thick paste. The paste should be smooth and you should not be able to feel the coconut particles. You can make this paste in bulk and the same is used in chicken/mutton gravies as well as various pulses commonly made in Marathi households.
Once the cashewnuts are 3/4th cooked in the curry add the coconut paste (3-4 tablespoons) and let the mixture cook on low flame. Keep stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. Cashewnuts take a long time to cook – so let the gravy cook for half hour on low flame. Then check if the cashewnuts melt into the mouth, they should become really soft. Once you are sure they have, garnish the gravy with fresh coriander leaves fine chopped and served with Chapattis, Rotis or Naan or what we Maharashtrians love – Tandalachi Bhakri ( Rice Roti)