A sign of affluence and romance and popularly known as the king of nuts, the almond is universally used in both Indian and western food.
Come Christmas and a host of delicious sweets and marzipan are primarily composed of this expensive nut. Did you know that the almond that we believe is a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree?
This tree bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its relatives, the peach and cherry trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what happens to be the almond nut. The almond is native to the Mediterranean regions of the Middle East, from Syria and Turkey. In India it grows mainly in Kashmir and can be used as a base in curries when ground as well as garnish when find or blanched.
“Almonds can give a good texture to any dish by simply varying the form — whole, sliced, slivered or chopped. It also accentuates the flavour of the dish, be it sweet or savoury and can be easily incorporated in any meal in the form of dessert, snack or an appetiser. For example, almond madeleines can be paired well with citrus fruits like candied orange or with berries and the combination is appealing to the taste palette given the nuttiness of the almonds.
Almond is also popularly paired with chocolate and the chocolate torte cake is a fine example of the combination which leaves an amazing after palate taste as well,” suggests Executive chef, Anurudh Khanna, Shangri-La, Bengaluru.
STORAGE AND SELECTION OF ALMONDS
Almonds should be stored in airtight containers and it’s best to keep them in the refrigerator or freezers to maximise their freshness. Since almonds contain antioxidants, these nuts can last a very long time if stored properly. They are likely to turn rancid if not kept in the appropriate conditions, due to their high-fat content.
Natural almonds can be stored for up to two years and sealed packets of roasted almonds can be stored under the same conditions up to one year.
They should not be kept in a warm pantry as it will hasten rancidity.
Once packaged almonds are opened, it should be kept in an airtight container and should be used within three months.
NUTRITIONAL AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ALMONDS
Almonds have a very high content of phytic acid, a substance that is known to bind certain minerals and averts them from being absorbed. These nutrition-high edibles come loaded with various antioxidants that aid in safeguarding against oxidative anxiety, which can harm molecules in your cells and can lead to swelling, ageing and grave ailments like cancer. “Being high in its content of protein, healthy fats and fibres, almond majorly helps to keep blood sugar level under control, thus making it an ideal choice for diabetics. Their high amount of magnesium content also benefits blood pressure levels. The nut keeps heart ailments at bay by preventing unsafe oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Most importantly, consumption of almonds facilitates in reducing hunger, thus dropping down your overall caloric intake,” says Dr Siddhant Bhargava, co-founder, fitness and nutritional scientist — FOOD DARZEE, a health and nutrition company.
Nutritional profile of Almonds
Protein — 6 gm, Fibre — 3.5 gm
Manganese — 20 per cent of the RDI
Vitamin E — 37 per cent of the RDI
Fat — 14 gm (of which nine are monounsaturated fats)
They also comprise a decent quantityof vitamin B2 (riboflavin), copper,and phosphorus.