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Cashew Curry

Cashew Curry 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Jul 3, 2022

This Sri Lankan dish treats cashews more like legumes, simmering them whole until softened in an aromatic, creamy, vegan curry. It’s a delightful change from cashew-based vegan dishes in which the nut is blended into a sauce, or from using chopped nuts as a garnish. To make this recipe go faster, start by soaking cashews in the boiling water, then prep the rest of the ingredients.

Active time: 20 mins; Total time: 45 mins

Make Ahead: The cashews need to be soaked 20 minutes before making the curry.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Curry leaves and pandan leaves can be found at Asian grocers.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings; makes 6 cups

  • 3 cups boiling water, plus more as needed
  • 14 ounces raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 medium yellow onions (14 ounces total), thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely grated or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (from one 3-inch piece)
  • 1 long green chile, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (see NOTES)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One (13.5-ounce) can or three (5.4-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut cream (see NOTES)
  • One (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • Two (2-inch) pieces pandan leaf (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
  • Cooked rice, for serving


In a large heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the cashews; they should be covered by at least 1 inch. Soak for 20 minutes, then drain.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the curry leaves and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until the curry leaves are fried and the seeds are aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the spices are very aromatic and sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute.

Add the cashews and stir to coat well, then add the coconut cream, cinnamon, pandan leaf, if using, and water. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low so that the mixture is gently simmering, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened, 18 to 20 minutes.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper and/or lime juice as needed. Serve hot, with rice.


To make your own Sri Lankan-style white curry powder for this dish, toast 6 curry leaves in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, then cool and combine in a dedicated spice grinder with 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, and 2 teaspoons each nigella seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Grind to a fine powder. You should have about 2 tablespoons.

If you can’t easily find coconut cream, substitute full-fat coconut milk and reduce the amount of water to 1/2 cup.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Lanka Food” by O Tama Carey (Hardie Grant, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan and Olga Massov.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 cup), based on 6: 563

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 47g 72%

Saturated Fat: 22g 110%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 230mg 10%

Total Carbohydrates: 26g 9%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 13g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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