April 11, 2023
One of the biggest misconceptions about North Indian food is that it's always loaded with unhealthy cream because that's how it is often presented in restaurants and on grocery store shelves. But, this is not the Indian food we grew up with nor what we eat in our homes. Typically, when we want to add a little creaminess, we reach for nuts like cashews and almonds. This is where cashew cream comes in. It's a perfect little ingredient to prepare and keep on hand to add into everything from Indian curries, soups, pastas, desserts, smoothies, and the like. Why not just default to coconut milk, which many recipes call for? Well, because the taste profile does not suit our Punjabi curries (there are no coconut trees in North India!) I've shown you in past recipes how to add the cashews into a soup ahead of cooking and then blend them down at the end like this creamy carrot soup. You can also make cashew cream as a stand-alone ingredient to fold it in as you like. It's important to note that it does have a level of sweetness to it, so it's important that you temper your dish to offset that. Also, draining and discarding the soaking water helps. Enjoy making this and keep some in ice-cube trays in the freezer so you never have to go without again. This does not last long in the fridge (about 3-4 days), so it's critical to freeze what you don't need. Another tip on saving a few cents and sometimes dollars? Purchase broken cashews rather than whole, which are cheaper. This recipe is a bit of a repeat. I showcased it here in this past blog post, but I think the ratio below of cashews to water works slightly better. My recipes are always evolving - so find the one that works best for you.
Blender: Creamy, Lucious Cashew Cream
Makes 2 cups
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (preferably broken)
ample water, for soaking
1 cup water, for blending
1. Soak the cashews in hot, boiled water for 30 minutes or 45 minutes to overnight in room temperature water. Soaking does help create a smoother texture when blending. * Use broken cashews, which are often a dollar or more per bag cheaper than whole, which you can save for dishes where presentation matter.
2. Drain the cashews and discard this water.
3. Place the soaked cashews in a high-powered blender and add the 1 cup of water. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy - 1 to 2 minutes. It is important to cover the blades with your product. You may want to stop and scrape the product down and off the sides of the blender and then continue to process. A silicon spatula helps to grab all your product easily.
4. Storage is key with cashew cream, which lasts about 3 to 4 days in a refrigerator. Store what you'll use in a small, glass jar in the fridge, and the rest pour into an ice-cube tray and place in the freezer. Once frozen, I pop the squares out and put them in a labeled and clear freezer bag for easy grabbing. Just plop one into a bowl in the morning, place in the fridge, and it will be ready by dinner.
Question: Some of you have asked for nut substitutes. You can use anything from sunflower and hemp seeds to oats. Play around with the amount of water to use but use the same process as above. You can also add in spices or sweetener when blending depending on how you want to use the cashew cream. I've used everything from Indian garam masala to Mexican, Italian, and chiles. Brown sugar or honey is nice if using the cashew cream as toppings for desserts or as an addition to oatmeal. Or do what I normally do and make this as neutral as possible so you can simply add the spices or flavors in later depending on the dish. If you want to drink your cashew cream like a beverage consider adding more water and straining it for a smoother finish in a nut milk straining bag.
Watch me make it! And while you are there, considering subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
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November 28, 2023