Sri Lankan Cashew Curry (My Style)

Posted on April 2, 2016


Okay, so A. I haven’t blogged on my own blog in a while and B. enough people have tried, liked and want to know how I make my cashew curry. Therefore maybe it is time I shared it. Its quite easy, even if preparing cashews is a bit time consuming. However,this wait will be vindicated in that the end product is addictively delicious, as long as you like cashews. It is also Vegan, Vegetarian, high in energy, and as long as you can control yourself over how much you eat in one go, its not the worst curry for your health.

Now before we continue, there is a couple of things that one must understand, especially if they are not Sri Lankan or at least South Asian. This is because if you were say, from Europe, it is very likely your perspective of a curry is shaped by the Indian or Thai types that you are much more likely to encounter. You may have had Satays where peanuts are a key ingredient, or Tikka Masala, where cashews may be found in abundance. Here the nuts are an integral component of the curry or sauce and might be ground or crushed, as opposed to being the ‘object’ of the curry, such as chicken in Chicken Tikka Masala.

In a Sri Lankan Cashew Curry, the cashew is the object, like chicken in a chicken curry. If you think this is weird, then also know that we Lankans also love fruit curries, like Apple, Banana, Mango, Amberalla, etc. and in fact, certain fruits such as types of Bananas may only be eaten cooked into a curry. It is not weird; its just another different tradition of curry making, amongst the dozens of different types of curries in the Indian Subcontinent itself, and we’ve been eating this for the past 2,500+ years.

Now that this is cleared up, here is the recipe 🙂


Please note that all these are rough and you can be flexible based on the taste you like

  • 250 g of raw cashews,  (has to be RAW)
  • 2 cans of coconut milk (basing on Harris Teeter small can size), 400 ml
  • 3-4 curry leaves or 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick (not powder; it seems we forgot to tell the Portuguese and Dutch when they invaded us to take our cinnamon, but the whole idea is to infuse the aroma not eat it)
  •  1 tsp Red pepper or cayenne pepper (or more if you like spice)
  • 1tbsp turmeric powder
  • Finely chopped onion, garlic (3-4 kernels), and if you like something extra, 2 pieces of green or red chili finely chopped
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1-2tsp oil (I like olive but could be something else) to lubricate the saucepan


Soak the raw cashews in cold water for about 24-36 hours but no more, as it will ferment. Leave uncovered in a cool dry place. Ideally you want to change the water about halfway. Soak closer to 24 hours for crunchy, closer to 36 hours for creamier taste.

Heat the oiled up saucepan (or pot or whatever) on high heat with onions, garlic, and chilies, stirring until you can see it is sizzling and notice the aroma. This will be about 3 minutes.

Then throw in the curry leaves or powder and cinnamon stick. Again wait till you can smell the flavor, which should not take more than 2 minutes,  then throw in the cashew, stir in for about one minute and throw in the pepper/cayenne, and turmeric.

Stir well so everything mixes for about 3-4 minutes and as soon as you notice things getting dry, in goes the coconut milk.

Drop the heat to low and stir well. Wait till the coconut milk is reduced a little and then add salt. Keep stirring on low heat to required level of dryness and flavor. I would do this for about 5-7 minutes from when the coconut milk went in, depending on the volume of curry. And then it is ready.

If it’s really watery, you may not have the cashews absorbing much of the flavor. If it’s too dry (i.e no sauce left) then the cashews will be crunchy, shrunk but flavorful. You need to be in the middle so make sure to taste the sauce and a piece of cashew once every minute or two. You can stop when you like the taste.


Serve hot with fried rice, jasmine, brown or Basmati rice, or even couscous or dry fried noodles (I’m thinking Mi Gorang or Singapore style fried noodle). You can also use serve this as a dip, with soft pieces of bread, cut pieces of pita, naan or roti. The amount suggested when served with rice should feed about 5-6 people.

I WILL post a photo as soon as I find one I took when I made the curry last, but you can google Sri Lankan Cashew Curry if you are visually curious. It tastes better than it looks anyway, and you should never judge a book by its cover. Bon Apetit!!!

Posted in: Life