A native of Brazil, the Cashew was introduced to Goa by the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century. Though the other Portuguese imports such as potatoes, tomatoes and pineapples immediately caught the fancy of the Indian palate, the cashew took some time in coming into the limelight. Basically because the cashew was brought to coastal India not for its culinary value, but rather to prevent erosion of the fertile soil of the region due to the intricate root system of the cashew tree!
The cashew in itself is a pseudo-fruit – since what appears to be a heady sweet smelling, pear-shaped fruit or cashew apple, is actually the swollen pedicel (or the stalk of the flower). The actual kidney shaped fruit lies at the end of the apple and ensconced within is the seed popularly known as the cashew nut. The fruit first develops from the flower and the apple then grows and ripens just two weeks before the fruit is ready for harvest.
This photo-feature traces the journey of the cashew from flower to a ripened fruit. The different varieties of cashews bearing oval as well as pear-shaped, and yellow as well as orange-red ripe cashew apples are featured in the pictures.
As an aside, you would find it interesting that just as the Portuguese word for potato is ‘batata’ and that for pineapple is ‘ananas’, the same for cashew is ‘caju’! So now you know the origins!
– Narendra Nayak © 2018