Did you know that Almond Butter (Nut Butters) is amazing, as is Almond Milk. Make your smoothies with Almond Milk or half almond, half usual milk and you will never go back.
Sweet almond has a faint, nutty fragrance and taste. The origin of almonds is variously given as West or Central Asia. The almonds have been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for more than 2000 years, and it is mentioned often in the old testament. Today, the main producers for the market are Spain and Italy.
Almonds are much used in Near and Middle Eastern cuisines. In North Indian cooking (which is heavily influenced by Persia) they are used in recipes and ground as a sauce thickener. Almond pieces browned in ghee are a popular aromatic decoration for fragrant biriyanis and other dishes. Some Indian desserts also contain almonds, such as dadaami kheer – an almond milk pudding flavoured with saffron.
The most common product of Western cuisine containing almonds is marzipan, a confection of an intensely kneaded mixture of almonds, sugar and aromatic essences such as rosewater.
Bitter almonds taste strongly bitter and develop an intensive characteristic aroma with moisture e.g. by chewing. However, bitter almonds contain hydrocyanic acid, which can be lethal especially in children, so care must be taken. It should be noted also that sweet and bitter almonds are completely different products and can never substitute each other.
Since bitter almonds are toxic, they are hard to locate in western countries, but bitter almond essence is usually available. It is well suited to flavouring cookies, cakes and marzipan, but is very strong, so care must be taken. Kernels of peach or apricot will impart similar flavours. Bitter almonds are used primarily in sweets, but can be used to flavour spicy dishes thus giving a very exotic taste. Careful dosage is essential.
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