Learn what candlenut is used for, how it is called in other languages, why you need to cook it before eating and how to substitute it with other nuts.
As the name implies: these nuts are so rich in oil, that they can be lightened (as what they used to do in Hawaii: each nut would burn about 15 minutes, so burning nuts consequently would give you a measure of time.
The candlenut tree produces nut as big as pingpong balls in which the seeds are covered. The whitish seeds resemble a bit like the seeds of a chestnut:
What is candlenut called in other languages?
- in Malaysia: buah keras
- in Indonesia: kemiri
- in Chinese: tóng shù 桐树
- in Tagalog (Philippines): lumbang
- in English: Indian walnut, candle berry
- in Hawaii: kukui nut
Raw nuts are toxic, but this toxicity disappears when you cook them. The oil doesn’t have any toxicity.
In Malaysia and Indonesia, the nuts are used to thicken (curry) gravy. On the Indonesian island Java, candlenuts are used to prepare a thick sauce, which is enjoyed with rice and vegetables.
The nuts can also be roasted and mixed with salt into a paste to make Hawaiian "inamona", which is used to flavor a traditional raw fish salad called "poke".
Outside of Southeast Asia, people do substitute candlenuts with macadamia nuts because the latter contain a similar amount of oil and – when pounded – result in a similar texture. Macadamia nuts aren’t bitter nor toxic when eaten raw. Candlenuts however are much more cheap compared to macadamia nuts.
Looking for a delicious recipe with candlenuts? Then go read and prepare this authentic Indian curry chicken recipe.