This dish is easily doubled and it can be made up to a day in advance if required.
250g (8½ oz) raw cashew nuts
2 cups desiccated coconut
2½ cups hot water
1½ Tbsp grated peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 fresh medium-hot long red chillies, halved and deseeded
2 short lengths of lemongrass, smashed with a mallet, or 5-6 strips lemon peel
Small piece cinnamon bark
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 small stem curry leaves (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 Soak the cashew nuts in water for at least 1 hour, but up to 6 hours. Drain.
2 Put the desiccated coconut in a blender or food processor and pour in the hot water. Blend for 30 seconds, then tip into a sieve set over a bowl. Squeeze with your hands to extract the milk (alternatively, use ready-prepared coconut milk).
4 Bring to a gentle boil, then cook, uncovered for 12 minutes. Add the salt and cashew nuts, then cook gently for 30 minutes, or until the nuts are tender and the liquid is reduced (partially cover pan with a lid towards end of cooking if liquid is evaporating too fast). Transfer to a bowl and serve hot.
Don’t be tempted to increase the chilli heat – the delicate spicing allows the cashews to be the star. If the mixture is too thick at the end of cooking, thin it with a little more coconut milk or water.