Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: cashew from Collins English Dictionary


1 a tropical American anacardiaceous evergreen tree, Anacardium occidentale, bearing kidney-shaped nuts that protrude from a fleshy receptacle 2 Also called: cashew nut the edible nut of this tree

[C18: from Portuguese cajú, from Tupi acajú]

Summary Article: Cashews
From The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

Native to South America, the cashew tree was introduced to India by the Portuguese and is now grown in many other tropical parts of the world, including Africa, Central America, and the West Indies. As the cashew nut is difficult to extract from its hard shell, and the shell contains powerful irritant substances, the nut is commonly sold shelled. Cashews have a mild, nutty flavor and tender texture.


Shelled cashews can be bought year-round raw or roasted and salted. Look for large, whole cashews; avoid those that are small or broken.


Shelled, unroasted cashew nuts can be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for a few weeks. For longer storage, keep them in an airtight plastic container in the fridge for up to 6 months, or in the freezer for up to a year.


Prized for their flavor, salted or spiced cashews are a popular nibble with drinks.


In cooking, unsalted cashews are added whole or finely ground to both savory and sweet dishes ranging from stir-fries and curries to biscuits and sweets.

Flavor pairings

Chicken, corn, black pepper, chiles, smoked paprika.

Classic recipes

Spiced cashews; stir-fried chicken with cashews; chicken korma with cashewnuts; cashew nut fudge.

Classic recipe
Spiced Cashews

A popular Indian nibble, spiced cashews are very simple to make and taste particularly good freshly cooked.

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

  2. Crack the cardamom pod and remove the seeds from inside. Using a pestle and mortar, finely grind the seeds. Mix the ground cardamom with the cumin, coriander, chili, salt, and sugar.

  3. Place the cashews in a large bowl, add the oil, and stir to coat well. Add the spice mixture and mix until the nuts are evenly coated.

  4. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Related Articles

Full text Article cashew
Philip's Encyclopedia

Evergreen shrub or tree grown in the tropics, important for its nuts. The wood is used for boxes and boats, and produces a gum similar to gum...

Full text Article cashew
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

A tree, Anacardium occidentale , native to tropical America and cultivated widely in the tropics. It grows to 12 m and has sweet-scented red...

Full text Article cashew
The Penguin English Dictionary

/kashooh, kəshooh, kashooh/ noun 1 the edible kidney-shaped nut of a tropical American tree. 2 the tree, belonging to the...

See more from Credo