Badam Beyond Doodh: 7 Almond-Based Comfort Dishes To Try Today
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In India, when you are forgetful, you are often asked to eat almonds to sharpen your memory. The dry fruit is believed to have numerous health benefits. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels. The vitamin E found in almonds is a powerful antioxidant, which can help if one has issues with inflammation. The brown skin of the almonds is also nutrient-dense. 

From containing calcium and phosphorus that’s good for bones to being a good source of dietary fibre, which is important for digestive health and keeps the gut healthy, this little dry fruit has a whole lot of benefits. The high fibre, protein, and fat content of almonds gives a feeling of fullness, so snacking on them can reduce overall calorie intake. The calorie content of almonds is high so it's best to eat them in moderation.

The nut can be eaten plain or roasted. It can be added to snacks and salads, too. Some other ways to use almonds include making almond butter or even almond milk with them. For those who are lactose-intolerant or vegan by choice, almond milk is a great option. Using almond flour to bake instead of maida or all-purpose flour makes the baked goodies healthier. To use almonds in your cooking, here are some easy recipes to try.

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Badam Halwa 

This rich and creamy dessert is made for special occasions. It is made with ground almonds, ghee, sugar, and cardamom and flavoured with cardamom. The almonds are usually soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes and then the skin is peeled off. These almonds are then ground into a paste. Use a little milk so that the paste is coarse.

Heat some ghee in a pan and add the almond paste to it. In about 5-7 minutes, add some more remaining milk and some sugar to this mix and stir continuously till the mixture thickens. Then add some cardamom powder and saffron strands to the mix. This gives the halwa a beautiful aroma but you can also skip it if it's not available at home. Use chopped almonds and pistachios to garnish the halwa. 

Video Credit: Nisha's Kitchen

Murg Badami

Chicken cooked in an almond gravy can be rich and delicious. In this dish too, the almond is soaked in hot water for 30 minutes. This makes the almonds easier to peel. Once peeled, the almonds can be ground into a thick paste. Fry chopped onions in ghee till they turn golden. Add ginger-garlic paste and once the raw smell disappears, add tomato puree and cook until the oil separates. 

Then add dry spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chilli powders. Add the chicken pieces and cook until they are seared on all sides. Finally, add the almond paste and yoghurt. Lower the heat and cook this. Once the gravy thickens, sprinkle garam masala on top and garnish with fresh coriander.

Badam Katli

Katli is usually made with cashew or kaju. However, this Indian mithai or sweet, can also be made with almonds and sugar and is as delicious. Soak the almonds in hot water and peel them. Unlike many other dishes where the almonds are ground into a paste, in this recipe, the almonds need to be made into a fine powder. 

Heat sugar and water in a pan and make a simple syrup. Add the almond powder, cardamom powder, and a few strands of saffron to the mix. Just cook it till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Grease a plate with some ghee and pour the cooked  mixture on it. Make sure that it is spread evenly. Once it's slightly cool, it can be cut into diamond shapes. You can pick up the pieces only once they're fully cool; otherwise, they may break.

Shahi Paneer With Almonds

This festive dish is often the preferred choice for serving guests. Considered a royal treat, this vegetarian dish made with paneer is cooked in a rich and creamy almond-cashew gravy. Soak both almonds and cashews in hot water for about 30 minutes. Peel the almonds and grind them, along with the cashews, into a paste. Use milk to make the paste smooth.  

Heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and sauté until they crackle. Then add chopped onions, and ginger-garlic paste and fry. Add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes. The dry spices go in after this: turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt. Add the almond-cashew paste and cook for a few minutes. Don’t overcook this; just make sure the paneer cubes get coated well. After the gas is turned off, some garam masala can be sprinkled on top. To make the dish even more rich, it can be garnished with fresh cream.

Badam Kheer 

One of the most popular desserts in India, kheer, tastes even better with almonds in it. Badam kheer is made with milk, rice, and almonds, flavoured with cardamom and saffron. The milk needs to be boiled in a heavy-bottomed pan so that it doesn’t get burned. Soak rice in water for a few hours, drain it and then add it to the boiling milk. 

Make sure to cook this on low heat until the rice is soft and the milk thickens. Then add sugar, sliced almonds, cardamom powder, and saffron strands to the mix. This should take about 10–15 minutes to complete. The Badam kheer can be garnished with nuts and served either warm or chilled.

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Badam Pista Ladoo

The Badam pista ladoo is a nutritious and tasty sweet made with almonds, pistachios, and sweetened condensed milk. The recipe is really simple. Dry roast the almonds and pistachios separately. Let them cool and then grind them together into a coarse powder. 

In a pan, mix the almond-pistachio powder with sweetened condensed milk and cardamom powder. Cook this on low heat and it needs to be stirred continuously. The mixture will thicken. Don’t wait for it to cool fully; grease your palms with ghee and shape the mixture into small ladoos while it is still warm. Let the nutty ladoos cool completely and then they can be stored in an airtight container.

Green Beans With Almonds

This savoury dish with almonds is healthy and delicious at the same time. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 3–4 minutes, then transfer them to a bowl of ice or cold water so that they stop cooking and are not overdone. The beans lose their crunch and become limp if overcooked. Drain the beans; post this.  Melt butter in a pan, add chopped garlic and then the green beans and sauté for 5-6 minutes till its tender. Add the sliced almonds, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes until almonds are lightly toasted. Drizzle some lemon juice on top.