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, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew “nuts” (see below) and cashew apples.
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.
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.
In Goa, India, the cashew apple (the accessory fruit) is mashed and juice is extracted & kept for fermentation for 2-3 days. Fermented juice then undergoes double distillation process to Get Pure & Crystal Clear Feni- Exotic Goan Heritage Drink with pleasant aroma. Feni has various medicinal properties and it is a purely Natural & Herbal Drink (Courtesy:Dr.Sandip Sawant,Goa)
In the southern region of Mtwara, Tanzania, the cashew apple (bibo in Kiswahili) is dried and saved. Later it is reconstituted with water and fermented, then distilled to make a strong liquor often referred to by the generic name, Gongo.
In Mozambique it is very common among the cashew farmers to make a strong liquor from the cashew apple which is called “agua ardente” (burning water).