After my marriage, I moved to my husband’s ancestral home in the coastal town of Telicherry (now Thalassery) in Kerala. I knew practically nothing about baking at that time. Every other evening, my husband would bring home fragrant, freshly baked bread, buns, and a variety of cookies and cakes from the famous Mambally’s bakery. This bakery, started in 1880, was the first bakery on the coast of Malabar, and was a source of delight to both the British as well as the local population of the town, since its inception, to up to around 15 years ago, when somebody purchased the land and demolished the quaint old building.
The bread baked there was unlike that of any other bakery in as much as that it was quite savory and completely devoid of sugar; as a large quantity was supplied to the nearby general hospital for the inpatients. My husband, like many a Telicherry resident, was naturally addicted to this bread, and would have it with hot dali toye or with hot cabbage stir-fry. The cookies he loved most were the special cashew cookies and often, he would make a present of them to his friends. Later, when the bakery closed, I could see how much he missed these two items, and soon, I started experimenting with baking.
After many an attempt, some not so successful, a few scrumptious beyond expectations, I started baking the cookies and the bread to perfection, to the unalloyed glee of my husband. Biting into one, my husband started having the nostalgic childhood memories of himself as a schoolboy, being handed a cashew cookie lovingly by the head baker, the jovial, bald, paunchy old Kunhannan (short for Kunhi Kannan), dressed in a sleeveless baniyan (white west) and a mundu (a sheet of traditional Kerala white cotton cloth used for covering the lower half of the body). My to-be-husband would munch on it, as his father purchased hot loaves of bread for the evening tea.
Here is my recipe of that perfect cashew cookie for you. Do bake and enjoy!