Shu Han Lee-inspired fried cashews with curry leaves

The recent lockdown has resulted in all sort of unexpected effects. Instead of sending physical birthday cards, I have taken to sending virtual recipes. In this case, I was searching for something suitable for a colleague in Singapore.

The charming and creative Shu Han Lee came immediately to mind. Born and bred in Singapore, she moved to London, taught herself to cook (needs must!), and built up a following via supper clubs. Her book, Chicken And Rice, is a treasure trove of accessible Asian recipes.

One of them is for fried peanuts with curry leaves. Han Lee comments that these fragrant nuts, “are dangerously addictive, so it’s best to share them with a couple of good friends, preferably over bottles of cold beer and a good movie”. Then she suggests experimenting by substituting other nuts.

I’ve done that. We tried her version – with peanuts and chillies – and it was indeed excellent, with powerful flavours and good with beer. This version is adapted to accompany a cold, nutty sherry; or a delicate, blushing rosé. I also struggle to find fresh curry leaves, but I find dried do well.

Recipe for Shu Han Lee-inspired fried cashews with curry leaves

Serves a couple of friends with a drink


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of curry leaves
  • a generous pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
  • groundnut oil for frying
  • 150g/1 cup cashews
  • Maldon salt


  1. Crush the garlic cloves – don’t bother to peel
  2. Heat a little oil in a smallish frying pan.
  3. Fry the nuts over a medium heat. Add the garlic, the Urfa pepper flakes, and the curry leaves. Stir.
  4. When the nuts start to turn a golden brown, take off the heat. Put into a bowl, minus the garlic. Sprinkle with Maldon (or any textured) salt.
Shu Han Lee, author of Chicken and Rice
Shu Han Lee, author of Chicken and Rice, taught herself to cook in London.
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