Quick Bites: Spiced Cashews

Spiced Cashews
Those who know me know I have a bit of a cashew problem. I eat them compulsively and can go through a large jar in an implausibly short amount of time. I like them salted and unsalted but my favourite version is lightly spiced cashews. Many commercial versions are available but none quite satisfy. They’re either too salty, too overloaded with spice, too overloaded with non-complementary flavours (garlic) or all of the above.

Luckily, it’s very easy to make spiced cashews at home and get them just how you like them. This recipe is for how I like them: just a bit of heat, a little bit of savoury tang, all allowing the cashewnewss of the cashews to come through clearly. The spices set off the cashews, the cashews are not a delivery mechanism for the spices.

Nuts and Spices

  • 2 cups unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 tspn red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3/4 tspn chaat masala (easily available in Indian groceries; I use the MDH brand)
  • 1 tblspn ghee or peanut oil


  • Heat the ghee/oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the cashews and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes. The cashews will start darkening almost immediately—you have to be careful not to let them burn. Don’t let the pan get too hot.
  • When the cashews are more or less evenly tanned all over put them in a large bowl. Let them cool for a minute or so and then add the spices and salt and mix/toss thoroughly with a spoon to coat the cashews well.
  • Pour into a smaller jar or bowl and when cooled eat with tea, beer or something harder; or, you know, just by the handful while slouched on the couch mindlessly watching tv.


  • Resist the urge to make overly large batches. These are best when finished the day they’re made, and it only takes about 6 minutes and minimal effort to make them.
  • As suggested above, spiced cashews are a popular drinking accompaniment in India (as they must be elsewhere too). Great with beer but also with whisky. I wouldn’t eat them alongside any sort of delicate or very complex malt but lightly salted and spiced as these are they’d go very nicely with something like the Talisker 10 or the Clynelish 14.


6 thoughts on “Quick Bites: Spiced Cashews

    • I think that’s some weird artefact in how feeds display WordPress posts. The green bowl picture was the first one I’d used. I’ve since replaced it and deleted the green bowl but that picture seems to still be associated with the post. Same cashews though—the picture was changed up in an attempt (successful) to gain the approval of Foodgawker (the major foodporn site).


      • Why this obsession to get onto Foodgawker? I gawked there a bit after you mentioned it and found the usual current trends of overly dressed fake pictures with distressed wood backgrounds, gauze, and ingredients strewn about. I may be in the minority but food pictures are best when natural and presented as food is really eaten. Yours are pretty good as they are. Our friend Sue’s pictures still remain a source of inspiration. Too bad they were lost.


  1. I don’t have a good answer. I agree with all your criticisms of the Foodgawker aesthetic. And I’ll add that some of the time it’s hard to make out what the food is that’s been photographed and most of the times when you can make it out the photograph is much better than the recipe (and when you click through to the blogs it seems like most food blogs these days are only about the photos—the recipes often seem like afterthoughts). But for someone who is so far outside the food blogging world it seems like a good way to get the attention of people who are interested in food (most of my core readership so far are whisky people—some of whom, of course, are interested in food as well).

    Still, I think my photography has improved with the brief comments that accompany each rejection. But if you ever come across some egregious “food styling” in my pics, or if it seems like I’m cooking things with an eye on the likelihood that they will photograph well, please slap me. Ditto if I purchase a DSLR.

    As for Sue, when I had lunch with her in Bombay I was staggered to discover that she was producing most of the pictures she was posting on Another Subcontinent with a point and shoot the size of a pack of playing cards.


  2. My cashew-allergic son is away at the moment so I made these for myself tonight.
    Really good, and super easy.
    I want to eat them all the time now.


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