Cashew Chicken Curry

Cashew Chicken Curry, on

You know that pregnancy brain is a real thing right? When your body is investing so much energy in growing another human, your thinker is less sharp. That’s fair, I guess.

Short term memory, in particular, is affected. Poor Oliver is suffering the consequences – his life right now is feast or famine.


Either I forget I’ve already fed him and he gets second-breakfast (just like mommy!) – or his tummy starts audibly grumbling by 1 pm, when he starts pathetically pawing at his dish to let me know I’ve starved him, again. Poor furry guy.

I think I should use this short-term memory loss to work some humour into my life. Like, saran wrap my own toilet before I go for a walk. When I get back? Boy, will I be surprised!

Cashew Chicken Curry, on

We’ve been doing a lot of Indian food lately. I realize this is two curries in a row. Hope you don’t mind! The sweet little Indian baby in my belly is insisting on spicy food, and I’m happy to oblige.

This curry is my own creation. I took bits of what I like about a few different curries and made my own favourite. It’s got subtle cinnamon and cardamom* against tomato backdrop, like butter chicken. But the ground nuts are borrowed from two of my other favourites, malai kofta and shahi paneer. And I like a little bit of heat in all my curries, hence the jalapeno and cayenne.

I’ve made this one numerous times using almond butter (Almond Chicken Curry!), and it is amazing that way too. I do love it with cashews, but next time I would grind them to almost a paste (you can see in the photos that they’ve still got a lot of texture – still really good, but I think I’d prefer them finer).

I really love the creaminess imparted by the long-simmered nuts or nut butter – it’s a wonderful richness without being cloying or overly heavy.

Like with any curry, don’t rush it. Caramelize those onions. Simmer longer for deeper flavour. And season well with salt. I love this recipe, Indian hubby wholeheartedly approves, I think you will enjoy it, too.

*A note on the cardamom – I just toss the whole pods into the pot (gently cracked with the side of a knife), but you need to pick out the pods when you’re eating the curry. You can scoop out the seeds with the tip of a paring knife instead, or just use ground.

Cashew Chicken Curry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
If you don't have a food processor to grind the cashews, you may use a mortar and pestle, or put them in a ziploc freezer bag and crush thoroughly with a rolling pin and/or meat tenderizer. Serve curry with basmati rice, naan, or rotis (whole wheat tortillas). Steamed peas with mint, or sauteed spinach with garlic and cumin seeds are nice side dishes.
  • 1 cup dry roasted cashews (salted or unsalted is fine) OR ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup ghee (or butter)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (yielding about 1.5 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 10 whole green cardamom pods, cracked (or ¼ tsp ground cardamom)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in rough 1½" pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup cream (heavy or half & half), or full-fat plain yogurt
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large pot, melt ghee or butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until golden and caramelized, about 25 minutes (lower heat if browning quickly).
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, finely grind cashew nuts to about a cornmeal consistency. Set aside.
  3. When onions are soft and golden brown, add garlic and jalapeño; saute 1 minute. Add garam masala, cinnamon, pepper and salt and saute 1 minute more. Stir in cardamom pods and diced tomatoes, and cook until oil begins to shimmer on the surface, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken thighs, ground cashews and water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low, cover the pot and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  5. Uncover the pot and increase the heat until the curry thickens to desired consistency (for me, this was another 15 minutes or so of cooking). Stir in cream or yogurt, then taste and add more salt until seasoning is right (you'll know because the spices and tomato will taste vibrant, not dull or flat). Top with chopped cilantro.



  • stephanie wise

    Mmm, cashews and chicken and curry are a few of my favorite things — the husband will especially love this, too!

    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough

    • foodess

      Thanks Stephanie, enjoy! :)

  • Shelly R.

    I couldn’t even wait to make this – bought all the ingredients and made it last night. So delicious! It’s just my husband and me so we’re going to be eating it for a few days. Can’t wait for leftovers tonight!!! Thank you!

    • foodess

      SO glad you enjoyed, Shelly! Thanks for coming back to comment :)

  • Kelly

    This looks amazing! We love Indian food, I will have to try this!

    • foodess

      Thanks, Kelly! Let me know what you think :)

  • Abigail

    Haha you always crack me up! Poor Oliver. And I LOL’d at saran wrapping your own toilet. Thanks for the smile :)

    • foodess


  • KeeganLarson

    Curry is one of my favorites. This looks great!

    • foodess

      Thanks Keegan!

  • Emily

    Love your funny stories, Jenn! And this recipe looks incredible, my tummy is growling.

    • foodess

      Thanks, Emily! :)

  • Nicole

    Did you use fresh diced tomatoes, or canned?

    • foodess

      I used canned, but when they’re in season I’d use fresh! Use either.

      • Nicole

        Thanks for your quick reply! I made both this and the saag paneer for dinner with my in-laws, served with basmati and naan. It was a hit with everyone and super easy to make ahead of time, Thanks especially for the tips on ghee, fenugreek, and paneer “substitutions” in the saag paneer post– I used them all.

        • foodess

          So nice to hear, glad you enjoyed both!! Thanks for coming back to comment :-)

  • Katrina Hansen

    I have this simmering on my stove right now… cannot wait to eat it!

    • foodess

      Let me know how it turned out!! :)

  • CanuckinGeorgia

    This was so good! I have made tons of curries and I really enjoyed this particular blend of spices. Freshly cracked cardamom pods smell amazing. Will make again for sure – and I should note there are not a ton of things that go into my ‘must make again’ file.

    • foodess

      Awesome, glad to hear it made the cut!! :)