MALAY: Kemiri or Buah ke~ras BOT: Aleurites moluccana FAM: Euphorbiaceae ILL: Plate 17, No. 7
Candlenuts are hard-shelled seeds from a handsome tree native to Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, but now cultivated in other hot countries. The popular name has been given because the oily nuts, when threaded on to the midrib of a palm leaf, are used as a primitive candle. The nut is cultivated for its oil, which is used for making paints, linoleum, soap and other products. The residue, after the oil has been expressed, and the fresh nut are poisonous (as are many Euphorbias), but after some time the poison disappears.
Candlenuts are commonly used in Indonesian cooking (sometimes roasted) where, with unusual spices such as galangal and lemon grass, they play a part in curries which differ considerably from the better-known curries of India. Use macadamia nuts or blanched almonds which local people prefer.