22 October 2009

tanzanian cashews

Simoni also showed us how to prepare cashews the traditional Tanzanian way:

1. Pick cashews from cashew tree:

2. Separate fruit from nut and discard fruit:

I was curious to see what the fruit tasted like, but apparently, no one eats them-- except foolish children. And I was too embarrassed to be thought a foolish child. Now, I think I should have just gone and taken a bite. Silly adult.

Then again, maybe there's a good reason no one eats them.

3. Spread the cashews out on a roasting dish over an open fire:

4. The cashews start to smoke as they emit a natural oil:

5. Then, they burst into flames:

6. Really big flames:

Simoni grabbed a palm tree frond and, in one quick motion, lopped off all the blades of the frond first on one side and then the other with a machete. It was pretty bad-ass. When he finished, he had two poles (palm leaf stems) with which to roast cashews. He told us they had to be long because the cashews burned so well. Once we saw the leaping flame, we understood what he meant.

7. Remove cashews from the flame and dump them on the ground to cool off:

8. They look a bit like large bugs when they've cooled:

9. Simoni's son, Daniel, showed us how to hit the little roasted cashews with a stick to crack the black shells enough to peel them off:

We were both really excited when we learned how to crush the shell and peel it off-- we even got our first cashew nuts out in one piece:

Once we learned how to crush the cashews properly, we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the ground, crushing and peeling cashews. Our hands turned black and oily, but it was great, messy fun.

I was surprised to discover that freshly roasted cashews are incredibly different from what you buy in a can or jar in the States. They are so fresh and flavorful-- and are even a little sweet and soft after being roasted-- that they almost taste like a roasted fruit. Yum!