This is a wonderful dish that is cooked in Sri Lanka for festive occasions. My mother’s eldest sister used to have cashew trees in her garden and we discovered many ways to cook cashews. My mother used to make this recipe frequently as it was the simplest way to serve the nuts. She used fresh cashews, which don’t need preliminary cooking, but when you buy them in the bag from the supermarket you need to soak them for an hour and then boil them to make them soft again.






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (18 votes)


  • 2 ½ cups whole cashews (about 385 g/13 oz)
  • 3 cups water for soaking
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 5 cm piece of rampe (pandanus leaf)
  • 12 curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp roasted curry powder
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time 1 hour

Soak cashews in water for about 1 hour. Drain cashews and place in a pan over medium heat with 4 cups fresh water and half the turmeric and boil for 30–35 minutes, until cashews are soft. Drain.

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add cinnamon, rampe and curry leaves and cook for another minute. Add the rest of the turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and roasted curry powder and cook for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the curry powder.

Add coconut milk and bring to boil. Add cashews and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid reduces to the level of the cashews. Remove from heat and serve with vegetable curries.


Recipe from Sri Lankan Flavours by Channa Dassayanaka, with photographs by Craig Wood. Published by Hardie Grant Books.