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.
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
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.