Cashewnut Chicken Curry

Chicken curry with yogurt and cashew nuts.
Chicken curry with yogurt and cashew nuts. (Photographs by Sebastian John)

When I returned from India, I brought some unsalted roasted cashew nuts. Last week when I fried some of those and added to a chicken dish my friend liked it a lot. So I started looking for cashew chicken recipes, but came across a variety of versions. I was not sure what was what, and most seemed to have a long list of spices. Off late I have been trying to cook with a shorter list of spices, and extract more flavors from the main ingredients itself.

I then checked a Kerala cookbook I had, to see if Keralites cooked chicken with cashews. When I lived in the state I don’t remember ever eating a chicken curry with cashews that claimed to be indigenous origin. But lo and behold,  there it was –  “Chicken Curry with Curd and Cashewnut” (Kasuandiparippum Thairum Chertha Kozhi Kari). According to the book “The Essential Kerala Cookbook” by Vijayan Kannampilly, the dish is of Muslim origin. What amazed me was the extremely short list of spices.  Then I remembered – for all its spice connections, traditional Keralite cooking incorporates a shorter list of spices than most Indian cuisines.

This dish was cooked based on the ingredients mentioned in the book. Some of the ingredients have been modified based on the availability and size of produce in the US. It turned to be a delicately flavored dish. I served with rice spiced with cumin. The dish also can be served with porottas or other Indian flatbreads.

Chicken yogurt marinade

1. Two pounds of chicken (I used boneless chicken thighs)
2. 3/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt and 3 tsp of non-fat yogurt (I prefer to cook with Greek yogurt)
3. 1 large sized onion – chopped fine.
4. 5 tsp of unsalted roasted cashew nuts
5. 1  2-inch long cinnamon stick
6. 4 tsp red chili powder (I used cayenne powder)
7. 1 tsp turmeric powder
8. salt to taste
9. Instead of using oil I used the fatty chicken skin

NOTE:  Robert of Amicus Cupcake commented that he found the dish to be very spicy with four teaspoons of chili powder.  Hence I would advise to adjust the amount of chili powder according to your taste.  I must confess that being from Kerala, I do have a very skewed sense of spice.

Cut the chicken into 1 inch-sized cubes, wash and pat dry. Mix 3/4 cup of yogurt, turmeric and 1 tsp of salt, rub into chicken and marinate for for an hour.

Grind into a paste 2 1/2 tsp of cashew nuts with 3 tsp of yogurt and set aside.

Fry some chicken skin in a pan on medium heat to extract some of the fat. Discard the skins, add cashews and fry till golden brown. Drain and set aside.

Add onions and cinnamon stick to the pan and fry till onions turn translucent.

Mix chili powder with 3/4 cup of water, stir it in to the onions, and bring the mixture to boil.

Add the chicken with its yogurt marinade. Mix well, cover pan and cook over low heat till chicken is done. The gravy should thicken and oil will float on top of the curry.

Stir in the cashew nut paste and cook for another 5 more minutes.You should have a very smooth and thick gravy.

Garnish with fried cashew nuts, and chopped cilantro (optional)


21 thoughts on “Cashewnut Chicken Curry

  1. I love cashew nuts with chicken and even rice dishes. Many Chinese chicken dishes involve adding cashew nuts.
    Loved your yummy recipe and would love to give it a try soon.

    Keep up the good work 😀


  2. This looks really great! Approximately how long do you cook it before the chicken is done? (sorry, I am a new cook and don’t know these things)

    1. I cooked the chicken for about 35 minutes. Cooking times can vary depending on the type of chicken and size of the pieces.

  3. I made this tonight, and it was incredibly spicy. Is it really a full 4 tsp (I only ask because you describe it as delicately spiced)? Thanks.

    1. The dish has a bite to it, but it is not extremely spicy. The yogurt and cashew paste cut the spiciness of the dish. I did use 4tsp (teaspoon). Also the spiciness varies on the chili powder used. After few unfortunate experiences, I now make my own spice powders.

    2. also I must confess, being from Kerala, we do have a huge tolerance for spicy food. so what I find as mild has sometimes turned out to be spicy for others.

  4. This is a great idea to grind up the cashew nuts. I’ve been cooking with roasted ground spices recently (as you can see from my last blog post). Am going to try something with cashew nut soon. I wonder if it would make a difference to roast them first?

    1. I have never tried roasted cashews with a chicken dish. But roasted cashews does sometimes overpower the overall taste of a dish. I guess experimentation would be the best approach. Plus using unsalted and unroasted cashews are the best. I buy them from Indian grocery stores.

  5. Hi Sebastian,
    So glad to find your blog.Your pictures are breathtaking and recipes are wonderful.Would love to try so many of them.

  6. Hiiii , am so happy to find ur lovely blog thru Deepa of Hamaree Rasoi who baked ur mango cake!
    I had to visit ur space and immediately fell in love!
    ITs one of those blogs that make u want to go thru every post , and i still am and i m loving discovering local Keral cuisine here.
    Specially that beef fry , i love street food and when i went to KErala went gaga over the street food but i simply cant eat too muc of spice and though i was in love with the flavours i couldn eat more than a spoon of each and had to rely on resorte restarnts to cook me non spicy food.
    Now i can make it at home minus all the chilly :-))))
    We make cashewnut chicken too , though a wee bit differently ,love to try ur recipe too!

  7. Hi,

    I am living in Thailand, and I really love Thai food. But I also love homemade Indian food, and this recipe was easy for me because I had all ingredients available. That’s not so easy, the next supermarket with an OK selection is far away…

    I used chicken legs, and let them cook for about 45 minutes, then I added the ground cashews. For the finish, I had some cilantro and some chopped cashews as a little garnish.

    A great and very easy to prepare dish. Thanks a lot!

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