Almonds popularly known as Badam in Hindi throughout India is a very delicately flavored and versatile nut when added to any dish makes it a healthy and tasty addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Almonds are available all through the year and are the freshest in mid-summer which is when they are at the peak of their season.
Almonds are a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. The fruit of the almond is not a true nut but consist of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed (nut) inside. Almonds are commonly sold shelled. Native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East spread into the northern Africa and southern Europe and more recently traveled to other parts of the world.
Almonds or badam are often eaten on its own, raw or toasted is an element of various dishes. They are available in many forms like whole nut, sliced, flaked or as almond butter, almond milk or almond oil. They can be used in any sweet or savory dishes. Sweet almonds are the type that is eaten. They are oval in shape, usually malleable in texture and wonderfully buttery in taste.
In India, almonds are extensively used in Mughalai cuisine and Hyderabad recipes to make the dish rich and delicious. The badam or almond paste is the base ingredient of pasanda or qorma style curries. Badam halwa is one of the popular and favorite sweet made from almonds adding color. Almond flakes are added to many sweets (such as sohan barfi), and are usually visible sticking to the outer surface.
Almonds can also be processed into milk substitute namely almond milk. The nut’s soft texture, mild flavor, and light coloring (when skinned) make an efficient analog to dairy, and a soy-free choice, for lactose intolerant people and vegans. Unlike animal milk, almond milk contains no cholesterol or lactose. You can make the almond milk in any flavor you wish like vanilla, chocolate etc. They are often enriched with vitamins. Almond milk had been staple drink of medieval kitchens because cow’s milk would not keep for long without spoiling and would usually be turned into butter or cheese immediately. Almond milk is a energy giving drink and easy to make. You can also powder the almonds and store them and mix in milk whenever you wish to drink. Usually this badam milk is served for breakfast or as a bedtime drink or at any other time when you feel like it. The badam milk powder is also used as flavoring to sweets in Kheer and burfis etc.
Almonds form the base of various drinks which are supposed to have cooling properties. Almond sherbet or ‘Sherbet-e-Badaam’ in Urdu, is a popular summer drink. Eating almonds are good as it help in fighting diabetes and heart diseases. Eating almonds reduces the glycemic index (GI) of the meal and subjects’ rise in blood sugar in a dose-dependent manner – the more almonds consumed, the lower the meal’s GI and the less the rise in subjects’ blood sugar after eating.
Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study says that people who ate nuts at least twice a week were much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never ate nuts.
Almonds are a very good source of vitamin E and manganese. Almonds are a good source of magnesium, copper, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and phosphorus. Fortunately, although one-quarter cup of almonds contains about 18 grams of fat, most of it (11 grams) is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. In Ayurveda, almond is considered a nutrient for the brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. Almond oil is called Roghan Badam in Tibb Yunani (the Greco-Persian system of medicine). It is extracted by cold process, and is considered a nutritive aphrodisiac both for massage and internal consumption.
Almonds may cause allergy or intolerance. Cross-reactivity is common with peach allergens and tree nut allergens. Symptoms range from local symptoms (e.g. oral allergy syndrome, contact urticaria) to systemic symptoms including anaphylaxis (e.g. gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms)
The nutritional values of 1 ounce of almonds are:
Protein: 6.0 g
Carbohydrate: 6.0 g
Fat: 15.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Sugar: 2.0 g
Vitamin E: 10.0 IU
Potassium: 207.0 mg
Iron: 1.0 mg
Calcium: 75.0 mg
Magnesium: 84.0 mg
Phosphorous: 147.0 mg
Zinc: 1.0 mg