The bean shaped and highly sought-after Cashew nuts originally belong to the Northeastern Brazil. It traveled all the way from Brazil to Portugal and it was Portuguese who brought Cashew Nuts to India. It was around the 16th Century. Mostly it is produced in India, Vietnam, and Nigeria and parts of South East Asia. It is cultivated in hot lowland areas and in dry season. In India, cashew nuts are grown in Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka. Everyone loves Kaju and it is known by a number of local names in India such as Jeedipappu, Andiparippu, Munthiri Paruppu and Geru Beeja. Cashew Apple is the main fruit of the Cashew tree and with it is attached the cashew nut.
These kidney shaped Nuts contain a great number of health benefits. They have the necessary dietary fibers, carbohydrates, essential minerals such as copper, phosphorus, thiamin, manganese and magnesium. Iron, selenium, zinc and potassium are also present in a considerable ratio.
Usage in Indian Kitchen
One of the important sweet dish made out of cashew nuts is the very lovable Kaju Katli. Cashews are used for garnishing sweet and rice dishes. The paste of ground cashews form a great base for curries and sauces such as Korma. Roasted and spiced cashews are another great munching option. It is also used in a number of biscuits, cakes and cookies. How can we forget the liquor made out of cashew from Goa – Goan fenny…?
Health Benefits of Kaju
- The flavonols present in Cashew Nut are helpful in prevention of cancer.
- It keep the heart healthy and the blood pressure lower.
- The content of copper present in Cashews are good for hair.
- Help in keeping the bones, gums, teeth and nerves healthy.
- Greatly reduces the risk of type II diabetes and anemia.
Quality Parameters for Kaju in India
While selecting Kaju one has to be vigilant about the classification, grading and colour of Kaju. Here we discuss these basic parameters to assess the quality of Kaju as detailed below:
1) Classification of Kaju grains as W, S, B
- W: stands for whole grain cashews which are most sought after and highest quality as they have not been damaged or split.
- S: stands for split grain and these cashews are cheaper than the whole grain (W), therefore these are put into less expensive and economy category. After roasting the split grains tend to be crispier than whole grains and are usually preferred for candy bars, pastries and baked goods.
- B: stands for broken grains (bits / chips) and these cashews are not evenly cut down like the middle category of splits ones. They are cheaper than the earlier two grades and are primarily used in economy packages, recipes gravy or as a garnishing ingredient.
2) Grading of Kaju on basis of count of grains and weight
Quality of Kaju depends upon the count of Kaju grains per one pound (0.454 kilograms / 454 grams). If the size, weight and quality of the grain is high then the number of Kaju grains per pound will go down. So, lower the count of Kaju grain per pound means higher the quality. For example: W180 grading stands for whole grains of Kaju where 180 pieces of Kaju grains form a weight of one pound. Most common grades available in Indian markets are W180, W210, W240, W320, W450, W500.
3) Classification of Kaju grains on basis of color as W, S, D written before classification of first column as whole, split and broken
- W: stands for whitish / ivory colored Kaju grains without any stains and spotting and are considered highest in quality.
- S: stands for scorched / reddish colored Kaju grains having dark color due to roasting and overheating.
- D: stands for dessert Kaju grains that are discolored / deep brown / deep blue and have been obtained by shelling and peeling the nuts. However the seconds quality in the scorched category also falls into this classification along with deep scorched, speckled and black spotted grains.
- WW stands for White Whole Kaju Grains
- SW stands for Scorched Whole Kaju Grains
- DW stands for Dessert Whole Kaju Grains
- WS stands for White Split Kaju Grains
- SS stands for Scorched Split Kaju Grains
- DS stands for Dessert Split Kaju Grains
- WB stands for White Broken Kaju Grains
- SB stands for Scorched Broken Kaju Grains
- DB stands for Dessert Broken Kaju Grains