Almonds come from a tree native to south Asia which has a fruit known as a drupe. The drupe has a hard outer casing inside which is the hard shell of the almond. Almonds are sold either in the shells or shelled.
Almonds can be sweet or bitter - the sweet ones are edible and the bitter ones tend to be pressed for oil and used as additives in some processed foods. Almonds tend to be eaten raw but they can also be roasted, blanched or crushed to a powder.
Almonds are used in salads, casseroles, curries, breads and desserts in various forms.
This is a common alternative to cows milk for those who are lactose intolerant. It is prepared by grinding almonds in water. It is very low in fat, contains no cholesterol or lactose. It is however, very rich in minerals and vitamins. It is high energy, proteins and fibre.
The almond is a very nutritious nut and is packed full of Vitamin E, calcium, iron and copper too. They also contain riboflavin which is thought to help the overall functioning of neurones and the nervous system so it's good for the brain.
Using Almonds in Indian Cooking
In Indian cuisine almonds are used in dished either to add a creamy nature to the dish or to add texture and a crunch. They are also a great thickening agent and work well in creamy dishes. Almonds also are used in deserts because they add a new dimension as a garnish. Almonds are usually soaked overnight, this softens them and makes it easy to remove the skin. A few of these are usually given to children as a snack because of the benefit they hold to a growing brain. To intensify the flavour of any nut very gently toast them first.Back to Cooking guides