Candlenut or Buah Keras, a South East Asian native plant and multipurpose tree found its usage in food, medicine and more. It should not be eaten raw as candlenut is mildly toxic. Therefore, candlenut needs to be cooked for its toxicity to be removed.
buah keras, buah kemiri, indian walnut, kukui nuts, 石栗果
nutty, oily, mildly bitter
unsalted macadamia nuts, cashew nuts
Candlenuts are often used in curries or stew when it comes to Malaysian, Indonesian or even Singaporean cuisines. The high content of oil in candlenuts contributes to the gravy being thicker in curries and stews. Candlenuts are added into the chilli pastes of curries to make the dish thicker, creamier and slightly oilier. The presence of glutamic acid in candlenuts gives a dish the hint of nutty flavour. The mild bitterness in the candlenuts disappears upon cooking.
Fresh candlenut fruits (and seeds) are toxic and cause laxative effects and vomiting if ingested in quantity.
The name ‘candlenut’ is derived from the high content of inflammable oil in it. Upon cooking the candlenuts for at least 15 minutes at 121 Celsius, its toxic effect reduces just like its bitterness. They are also used as candles or even to light torches. Besides the South East Asian region, candlenut is also an important ingredient to the Hawaiian cuisine. Poké, a typical Hawaiian dish uses roasted crushed candlenuts as one of its seasoning. As the content of oil in candlenuts is high, it is said to contain the benefits like other oily nuts which are beneficial for the hair, skin and even to heal wounds.
Caution: The natural laxative effect in candlenuts supports the belief that candlenuts encourage weight loss. One should be very careful when using candlenuts for such purposes as several medical reports from countries like Argentina reported how women were hospitalized after consuming candlenuts. In Spain, the sale of candlenuts has been banned.
Just like any other oily nuts, candlenuts have moisturizing benefits which are good for the hair and skin. The oil which is extracted from candlenuts is used as a moisturizer for both adults and babies as it is said to contain vitamins A, C, and E.
While there are no actual clinical studies to prove its medicinal benefits, South East Asians and also Hawaiians have been using candlenuts as a natural medicine for centuries to cure wounds, ulcers and even fever.
How to Choose
Candlenuts may turn rancid easily. Choose candlenuts which are light beige/cream coloured. They should not be brown in colour.
Candlenuts stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Otherwise, store candlenuts in the freezer for up to a year.
How to Use or Prepare
Step 1 of 1
Candlenuts must be cooked before consumption. A popular way is to toast the chopped candlenuts in a pan until browned before using. Otherwise, you can roast them in an oven for an hour at 160 Celsius (350 F).
In most Southeast Asian cuisine, candlenuts are blended or pounded to be added to chilli paste, which will be then sautéd in oil until cooked. As suggested in several studies, heating candlenuts at 121 Celsius for 15 minutes reduces its toxicity.