Cashew Nut Curry (Kaju Maluwa)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: June 19, 2020

Last Updated: March 5th, 20242 Comments on Cashew Nut Curry (Kaju Maluwa)

Cashew curry (Kaju Maluwa) is a celebration of Sri Lankan taste and texture – a vegan delight from Sir Lanka and the South of India, this creamy curry surprises on every level. A filling, hearty dish that is light, yet satisfying.

A silver bowl of cashew nut curry

I was introduced to this curry in the far south of India in a wonderful Keralan city of Tiruchirappalli. Being so far south, this dish is a popular vegan curry and shares heritage with Sri Lanka. Cashew curry or Kaju Maluwa (Kadju Maluwa) was revaluation! It's a surprisingly flavourful and filling vegan curry with an amazing, creamy sauce.

Sweet, nutty and mildly spiced it has a complex balance of flavour and the most amazing meaty texture in a rich, creamy coconut sauce.

Cashew Nut Curry in a silver bowl

What is Kaju Malawi?

Kaju or Kadju is the local word for Cashew. With many of Indians and Sri Lankans being vegan or vegetarian, every conceivable vegetable, grain, pulse and nut has been put to work in creating amazing combinations of flavour, fragrance and texture. This is key to the success of their healthy, fulfilling diet.

Cashew nuts are the seed of the Cajew apple fruit grown abundantly in South Asia. They have a soft, creamy texture and are perfect eaten raw, roasted or used within dishes as garnishes or ground into pastes to lend creaminess and flavour.

Cashew curry uses the whole nut to create a meaty texture with a nutty flavour. The cashew curry sauce is mild and fragrant from the coconut milk. It's a hearty, healthy curry that pairs perfectly with Indian breads or rice. It's often eaten on its own or as part of a larger banana leaf thali platter.

Why it works

It's tasty and filling - Meat is long forgotten in this amazing vegan offering that doesn't skip on flavour or heartiness. A bowl of cashew curry will satisfy on both fronts.

Cashew nuts for a cashew nut curry

Stuff you'll need

Kaju Maluwa is fairly light on ingredients and is very simple to make at home. You should have no trouble tracking down all the ingredients. Here are the key ingredients, but a complete recipe and video is below.

  • Cashew nuts - buy unsalted, roasted nuts - whole is better, but often in Asian supermarkets they may sell broken cashew nuts which are a good and cheaper option.
  • Spices - the usual suspects... turmeric, cumin powder, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, chili powder and paprika. This results in a mild and fragrant blend in the final sauce. For this recipe I used pre-ground powders but you can dry roast whole spice versions of any ingredient and then grind into a powder yourself.
  • Aromatics - Added fragrance and flavour in the form of onion or shallots, coconut oil, fresh curry leaves, star anise and fennel seeds.
  • Coconut milk - brings a sweet creaminess to temper the spices. It softens the whole dish to leave us with a mild, light cashew curry sauce - so delicious! Use coconut milk or if you can only find coconut cream, dilute with about 1/4 cup water.

Step by Step

My cashew curry recipe is not taxing at all. There's a video below to show you and as you'll see there's not much to making this creamy, nutty delight happen!

  1. Soaking the cashew nuts - This soaking stage elevates the texture of the nuts from crunchy to almost meaty.
  2. Mix the ground spices - create a curry paste with a little water and set aside.
  3. Simmer the cashews - with a little turmeric. Tis helps create a lovely colour.
  4. Fry the aromatics - to season the oil
  5. Add the onion to the spiced oil and cook until browned
  6. Add the spice paste and stir briefly
  7. Add the coconut milk and a little water and simmer the curry for 20 minutes
  8. That's it! You have a delicious creamy cashew nut curry
Soaking cashew nuts
Mixing spices with water to make a paste
cooking cashew nuts with turmeric
frying whole spices in oil
frying onion with whole spices
adding a spice paste to browned onions
adding cashew nuts and coconut milk to spiced onions
A creamy cashew nut curry is stirred with a wooden spoon

Pro Tips to make your life easier

Spice up your curry

  • This recipe creates a mildly soft and fragrant sauce, but there's definitely room to spice up the dish either by adding more or a hotter chili powder to cook out in the sauce or by adding fresh green chilies when you add the cashews. How spicy you want to go is up to you!

Authentic additions

  • In Sri Lanka and South Indian, Kaju Maluwa often includes green peas, spinach or fresh or frozen fenugreek leaves, potatoes, chickpeas and more. Bulking out the curry with vegetables or pulses will give a range of flavour and texture, so feel free to experiment. Calculate the cooking time of any addition and add to the sauce accordingly. You might need a little more liquid too.
Cashew Nut Curry in a silver bowl

Serving and storing suggestions

  • Cashew Curry stores well in the freezer - keep in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen until hot.
  • In the fridge I'll be good for 4-5 days, sealed in an airtight container.

Ready to get cooking?

I just know you'll love this simple Kaju Maluwa curry with a wonderful texture and fragrance. It transports me directly to Kerala and all the amazing food experiences I had. I can't wait to visit India and Sri Lanka again, but for now I'll satisfy my appetite with delicious dishes like this. Enjoy!

Cashew Nut Curry in a silver bowl
Cashew Nut Curry in a silver bowl

Cashew Nut Curry (Kaju Maluwa)

Rate this recipe

5 from 2 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Save Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 618

Video Recipe


For the curry paste

For the curry


  • Add the cashew nuts to a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 1 hour.
  • In a bowl, add all the curry paste ingredients. Add ¼ cup water and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Once soaked, drain the nuts and place into a saucepan. Pour over 3 cups fresh water and add the turmeric. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer gently for 30 minutes.
    Once cooked, remove from the heat, drain and retain the cooking liquid. Set both aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat until hot.
    Add the curry leaves, star anise and fennel seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds before add the diced onion. Stir well to combine, then stir fry for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and golden brown.
    Add the curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes being careful not to burn the spice. Add a little of the cashew nut cooking liquid if things get too hot.
    Tip in the cashew nuts and stir well before pouring in the coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of the cashew cooking liquid to thin out the sauce a little.
    Stir well, then pop on a lid and cook over a low temperature - a light simmer for 10 minutes.
    You can thin out the sauce out further if you need to here, by adding more cashew nut cooking liquid - I like mine rich and creamy, but sometimes it gets a little thick - you decide!
    Remove from the heat and that's it. Check for seasoning and add a little salt if you think it needs it.
    Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.


Add some heat to your curry by incorporating a spicier chili powder into the sauce or throwing in some fresh green chilies with the cashews. The level of spiciness is entirely up to you!
For an authentic touch, consider adding green peas, spinach, fresh or frozen fenugreek leaves, potatoes, chickpeas, or other vegetables and pulses to your Kaju Maluwa. Experiment with different combinations to achieve a variety of flavors and textures. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly and possibly add more liquid if needed.

Serving and storing suggestions

  • Cashew Curry stores well in the freezer - keep in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen until hot.
  • In the fridge I'll be good for 4-5 days, sealed in an airtight container.


Calories: 618kcal (31%) | Carbohydrates: 29g (10%) | Protein: 15g (30%) | Fat: 54g (83%) | Saturated Fat: 27g (169%) | Sodium: 607mg (26%) | Potassium: 713mg (20%) | Fiber: 4g (17%) | Sugar: 6g (7%) | Vitamin A: 215IU (4%) | Vitamin C: 55mg (67%) | Calcium: 83mg (8%) | Iron: 8mg (44%)
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