by Life Enthusiast Staff
Almonds - Prunus dulcis
Almond oil is high in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and Vitamin E, which makes it excellent for salad dressings. It's good for the inside and the outside of you! Massage or food. The oil from the almond nut is a superb natural moisturizer. Almond Oil is very beneficial for dry and mature skin, providing necessary moisture.
Almonds are much used in Middle Eastern cuisine; in Northern Indian cooking style, which was heavily influenced by Persia, they are widely used, besides poppy seeds, as a sauce thickener (in whole India, wheat flour is never taken for this purpose). Typically, almonds are fried together with several spices (mace, cinnamon, cumin and garlic or ginger) and then quenched with yogurt.
Almond pieces browned in butter fat (ghee) are a popular, aromatic decoration for fragrant biriyanis or other dishes of meat with dried fruits. Some Indian desserts also contain almonds, e.g. badaami kheer, a rather liquid almond pudding flavored with saffron or rose water. Other types of kheer may contain rice, semolina or thin noodles (vermicelli). For a fuller account of the Persia-influenced cuisine of Northern India (moghul cooking), see black cumin.
The most famous product of Western cuisine containing almonds is marzipan (also spelled marchpane). This confection is basically an intensively kneaded mixture of ground almonds, sugar and aromatic essences, frequently rose water. For this recipe, almonds are either used alone or flavored with one or two bitter almonds per 100 g of almond; you might also try just a hint of bitter almond essence).
Since bitter almonds are toxic, they are sometimes hard to get in Western countries, owing to paternistic laws; bitter almond essence is, then, the only way to archive bitter almond aroma. This essence is made by distilling a mixture of ground bitter almonds and water; it is more or less pure benzaldehyd, containing no hydrocyanic acid. Almond essence is well-suited to flavor cookies, cakes and marzipan. Since it is very strong, care must be taken not to overdose. If not available, kernels of peach or apricot can also be tried. Another possible substitute for bitter almonds are tonka beans in small dosage; yet also this spice may be not altogether harmless.