Almonds – a nut amongst nuts

Almonds add a wonderful richness to food be it cake, cookie, kheer, katli, burfi or...

New Update
Almonds a nut amongst nuts

Almonds – oh what a nut. It may be a nut but just five almonds first thing in the morning could turn a nut into a genius. Well that’s what we were told when we were children and our mother would feed my brother, me and my little sister these wonder nuts every morning without fail. How much they helped us hone our talents, I do not know. Perhaps they did, for we have achieved quite a degree of success in our respective fields.

Almond, without doubt, is the undisputed king of nuts. Going into the properties of the nut, one can learn that it is a health-giving and health-building food. It has unsaturated fat, which is beneficial and also are an excellent source of protein, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. All these nutrients help preserve the vitality of the brain and also strengthen the muscles and prolong life.

Types of almonds

These nuts come in two varieties – the sweet and the bitter. Again the sweet variety comes in two varieties – the thin skinned or what we know as kagzi and is highly recommended. Needless it is also very expensive. The bitter variety is not recommended for consumption as it is believed that they contain prussic acid that is harmful and in large amounts could prove poisonous. But they are extensively used for commercial purposes in the production of almond oil, perfume and cosmetics.

Culinary uses

Almonds add a wonderful richness to food be it cake, cookie, kheer, katli, burfi or when cooked with vegetables and even non vegetarian items. Toasted almond soup is one of my favourites and do I need to extol the taste of badam katli or badam halwa? Come Diwali and markets are flooded with katlis and burfis. How do I explain the delicacy that this wonder nut adds to dishes like murgh badam pasanda or badami babycorn mushroom masala? It is difficult to do so in mere words, so just taste it and you will know what I mean.

Even in Chinese cuisine, they use almonds quite often. Almond vegetables in Chinese style is something I never get tired of enjoying. And yes, what about salted toasted almonds that go oh so wonderfully well with cocktails or mocktails? Divine, is one word to describe the feeling after consuming a few. Toasted almond slivers are extensively used to sprinkle over desserts like sundaes or other ice cream based dishes. They are also used in making baklava, macaroons, nougat and marzipan. They make wonderful centres for chocolates. I read somewhere that the chocolate manufacturers use upto 40% of the world’s almonds. That surely speaks of its deliciousness.

They are so very healthy

  • The sweet almonds contains practically no carbohydrate and therefore can be had by people who have been advised low carbohydrate diets. Even diabetic people can have them without any harmful effects.
  • Almond flour is gluten free and therefore can be had by people who are allergic to gluten or other wheat allergies.
  • The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can also be eaten as a whole (green almonds), when it is still green and fleshy on the outside and the inner shell has not yet hardened.
  • Almond milk is a good substitute for milk for those who prefer dairy-free, soy-free diet. Good also for lactose intolerant people and vegans.
  • Bitter almond essence should be used drop by drop as it is highly concentrated. The flavour of bitter almonds is delicious in any cake or biscuit which includes ground almonds.
  • Almond oil is used in puddings and confectionery. It has a mild flavour, is subtly sweet and does not interfere with other flavours so much so that only a connoisseur can detect its flavour.

Recommended recipes-

Almond Rice Jelly,  Cream Of Asparagus And Almond Soup,  Almond Biscuits,  Almond Tea Cakes,  Garden Vegetables And Almond Soup,  Badam Katli,  Salad With Pear And Almond,  Choco Almond Muffin