Macadamia exports could be hot

INDIA might be about to discover what Byron Bay restaurateur Michael Abboud has known for years – macadamia nuts taste great in curries.

Mr Abboud has been using the Aussie bush nut at his Indian restaurant, the Orion Cafe Curry House, for about six years.

“It provides an authentic taste and thickens the curry nicely,” he said.

The nuts are roasted, crushed and then mixed with cashews into butter, korma and chicken tikka dishes.

“The nut fulfils a completely different type of flavour,” Mr Abboud said.

It was the nut’s unique flavour and a preference for using local ingredients that had prompted him to use it in the restaurant, Mr Abboud said.

The Federal Government has just funded a $169,950 program for the Australian Macadamia Society to develop a plan to market the nuts in India.

Society chief executive Jolyon Burnett said it was important the industry continued to develop new markets.

“Nut growing countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe are beginning to clip at our heels,” Mr Burnett said.

“Market share is dropping.”

Mr Burnett said capturing even a small percentage of the Indian market would be significant because of the size of its population.

Mr Abboud said he thought the nut would do well in India.

“They live to eat, they are real connoisseurs,” Mr Abboud said.

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the project would open the door for the industry to more than 1 billion people in the Indian market.

“Macadamia production occurs in Northern New South Wales, South-East Queensland and a few plantings in Western Australia, and plays an important role in supporting regional jobs and communities,” Mr Burke said.

“For 2007-08, Australian macadamia production totalled 32,8000 tonnes and exports totalled $87.4 million.”

The project is one of 14 to share in nearly $1.3 million from the Australian Government to help promote Australian food.

Macadamia butter chicken

Ingredients: 125ml natural yoghurt

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp turmeric 2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chilli powder 1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

125g of crushed macadamia nuts, roasted

1kg of chicken breast fillets, chopped

60g unsalted butter

1 tbs sunflower oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 cinnamon stick

1 Indian bay leaf or normal bay leaf

2 tsp sweet paprika

425g can tomato puree

150ml chicken stock

250ml of cream

Method: Combine yoghurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chilli, cumin, ginger and garlic in a bowl. Add chicken and stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Reduce heat to low, and then add chicken and marinade, paprika, tomato puree, macadamias and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and cook for a further 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice.

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