I have just returned from Tobago where over 50 of us, all related, celebrated my mother and her twin sister’s 80th birthdays. At gatherings like this with my Trinidad family, there is an abundance of yummy stuff to sample. My cousins and I stumble over each other in a bid to bring the yummiest thing possible to the beach, so that the maximum amount of “mak-ah-yay-ing”(nibbling) can go on. No real meal is produced although we can be there for many hours, usually over the lunch time period.
This recipe, we collectively decided to call “Rosemary and Cusho nuts” as my aunt’s name is Rose Marie which is a main ingredient, and my uncle Keith who sadly is no longer with us, having gone to sample his rum punches in heaven nearly 2 years ago, was always called “Cush” or “Cusho”, from childhood apparently, due to his love of cashew nuts, which are the main ingredient here.
Another significant part to the provenance of this recipe is my dear friend Janis, aka “Aunty Janis” who actually brought these nuts to the beach. Every year she makes goodies, which she gives as Christmas presents and these were the present for 2012.
We grow cashews in the Caribbean and they are the weirdest fruit. Each fruit, which is roughly the size of a pear or apple, produces only 1 seed, which sits outside the body of the fruit. Also, getting the nut out of its shell is pretty difficult and quite exciting. I once bought totally raw unshelled cashew nuts, as I couldn’t believe all the hype. I roasted them outside on a coal pot, and they are tricky little devils. They fizzle and spit and are not very friendly. Now I understand why they cost as much as they do and why we never see them in their shells in our markets.
The fruit itself is fleshy and not something you really want to eat raw, though we did as children. They have the effect of “tying up your mouth,” a West Indian expression which means they are acidic and leave a sort of coating in your mouth. However, they are very good stewed, which was a favourite of both A. Rose and U. Cush.
So after all that here is the recipe
Pre heat over to 200°
454g cashew nuts
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh rosemary cut into small snippets.
Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a roasting tray and place in a pre-heated oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes turning often. You really need to be vigilant as they burn easily. I use a spatula and turn them every 5 minutes or so.
While they are roasting, mix all the ingredients except the fresh rosemary together in a paste, in a bowl large enough to accommodate all the nuts.
When the nuts are all golden brown, empty them into the bowl with the paste and toss continually until you think you’ve coated them all with your mixture. I then spread them back out onto the roasting tray to cool.
Store in an airtight container such as a mason jar.