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Cashew

The cashew (Anacardium occidentale; syn. Anacardium curatellifolium A.St.-Hil.) is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae.  The plant is native to northeastern Brazil.  Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acaje.  It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts (see below) and cashew apples.

History of the Name
The name Anacardium refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an inverted heart (cardium means heart).

Habitat and growth
It is a small evergreen tree growing to 32 foot tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals.

Culinary
The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten on its own, lightly salted or sugared. Cashew nuts are sold covered in chocolate, but due to their higher price compared to peanuts and almonds, cashews are not as common.

Cashews are a staple in vegan diets. They are used as a base in sauces and gravies. It also can take on sweet properties for frostings and cookies. Raw cashews can also be made into a vegan milk (in a manner similar to almond milk) known as nut milk. They are an excellent source of protein and a raw, natural source of energy.

Cashew nuts also factor in Thai cuisine and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form, and in Indian cuisine, often ground into sauces such as shahi korma, and also used as garnish in Indian sweets and desserts. The cashew nut can also be used in cheese alternatives for vegans, typically in homemade cheese recipes.

In Malaysia, the young leaves are often eaten raw as salad or with sambal belacan (shrimp paste mixed with chili and lime).

In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular all across the country. Additionally, visitors to northeastern areas such as Fortaleza will often find cashew nut vendors selling the nuts for low cost, salted in a plastic bag upon purchase.

In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafer.

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