The shady palm trees, a reclining chair, a wide straw hat and a glass of chilled cashew apple cooler – perfect recipe to beat the summer heat..!!
I was born and brought up amidst the sweaty heat and air-conditioned rooms of Muscat, Oman– I was in every way a product of the concrete jungle. It was after marriage that I got closely acquainted with the fruits of nature. For a person whose knowledge of trees in Kerala went as far as the coconut tree and the mango tree, not to forget the guava tree, the discovery of the cashew tree was one of mixed excitement. Initially I was more incline to avoid the tree because of the strong smell, the fruits that kept falling at the touch of a gentle breeze and the juice dripping down my favorite clothes leaving their mark (karra).It was when my mom in law showed gave me a glass of this juice that I was hooked..! Talk about loving the tree because I love the juice.. I am now the official “plucker” in the family when I go there.
For some background info on the cashew nut plant, the biological name is Anacardium occidentale. The term Anacardium means “inverted heart “ because of the shape of the fruit which looks like an inverted heart. The plant is small in size with large leaves and pretty pink flowers when in bloom. It is evergreen plant bearing accessory fruits – that means that at first glance the yellow fleshy structure called the cashew apple seems to be the fruit but is in fact the swollen stem. The nut part at the bottom is the true fruit. The cashew apple is a rich source of vitamin C.
This juice is often prepared at home during the cashew season. In kerala the plantation workers prepare toddy from the cashew fruits and they claim it to be the best they ever have. The same is sold is Goa as feni. The juice that we prepare is devoid of any alcohol content or any artificial flavoring agents. It needs to be served chilled, because that’s when the taste stands out and the juice enters the body like a refreshing wave of coolness.
CASHEW APPLE COOLER
- Cashew apple – 2 Kg
- Kanji vellam (Rice gruel water) – 5 Tbsp
- Bottles to store.
- Clean the cashew apple carefully with water. Great care should be exercised here because the fruit is very ripe and the skin is fragile, the fruit will mash easily.
- Keep aside to drain the water.
- Take a large vessel. Taking each fruit squeeze it with your hand as you would squeeze a sponge, and extract as much juice as possible. The juice will be quite cloudy at this stage because of the karra/acid content.
- Store this in the container for about a hour, during which the solid substance will start to float at the top or sometimes sink to the bottom. Strain the juice and discard this portion..
- Now 4 Tbsp of kanji vellam/ rice gruel water to the juice and mix well. Keep aside for a couple of hours.
- All the karra /acidity will come out of it and sink to the bottom forming a layer a layer. Remove this layer by gently tilting the vessel and pouring out the clear juice to another vessel. You should get the entire residue, because the presence of this can cause an acidic taste and a furry feeling in the mouth.
- Repeat the procedure again with the remaining 1 Tbsp kanji vellam. Sometimes a little residue is seen floating at the top. Remove this with a spoon. Once that is done, store the juice in a bottle and chill well before serving.
- If the juice needs to clear more, add another spoon of kanji vellam and repeat the procedure.
- Enjoy the drink on a hot day. Make sure you finish the juice within 4 days as it tends to develop an alcoholic kick on keeping it for a prolonged period of time.
- This juice is great for cooling the body and also a good source of vitamin C.