Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spicy Cashews

Rajbhog Foods makes Indian sweets and snacks on the East Coast.  When I lived in New York, a couple of times a year I would head to Jackson Heights for a big grocery shopping trip to buy Indian vegetables and lentils and spices.  There were smaller Indian grocery stores nearer to my apartment, but it was always worth the trek to be surrounded by south Asians and the languages and the smells.  And there was always a good lunch!  I would often bring back sweets, like the cashew katli or the special burfi, and always, always the spicy cashews!  I am not sure what goes into them, but they are the perfect snack, a little spicy, a little salty, so good!

Other versions do not come close to those Rajbhog spicy cashews.  Sometimes you will see spicy nuts that look like Flaming Hot Cheetos, covered in atomic red powder and just wrong. This is a really good approximation, not too spicy, just a little sour, and just a little of that black salt sulfur.  You can buy citric acid in most big grocery stories in the spice aisle. It's also an essential ingredient for preserving tomatoesBlack salt is harder to find, and I've only bought it in Indian grocery stores.  It goes into all kinds of foods, especially chaats!  And some people sprinkle it on fruits. 
Once you try these spicy nuts, you might find a use for the whole bag of black salt...

Cashews are expensive.  You can use raw peanuts or any nut you like, really.  You can adjust the spice blend to your taste.  If this isn't spicy enough for you, lower the amount of salt.  Too spicy!? Substitute paprika for half of the chili powder.  Maybe you want to throw in some black pepper, or cumin, or smoked paprika! 

Spicy Nuts
Takes 15 minutes
Makes enough for a party

1 teaspoon black salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
2 cups raw cashews
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grind the black salt, chili powder and citric acid in a mortar so that it is a very fine powder.

Coat the cashews in oil, grape seed oil or something else that doesn't have a strong taste. Spread out on baking sheet in a single layer, toast for 5 minutes, mix them around, bake for 2 minutes more, mix them around and bake for a further 2 minutes.  You want them to be evenly browned.

Turn the cashews out onto paper towels.  Coat with half of the spicy powder and toss around so the nuts are evenly coated.  Let cool completely.

Keep the rest of the spice mix until it's time to make spicy nuts again.  The cashews will keep for a few weeks in an air tight container.  But you will eat them before you start to wonder if they are going bad.


  1. This sounds awesome. I can't wait to try this. I wonder if you used sumac if that would be tangy enough so you wouldn't have to use citric acid... I'm going to try!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thank you for your comments! Let me know how they turn out.