In India, almonds are considered “brain food” for children and almonds are a key ingredient in traditional sweets known as mithai. During the festival of Diwali, almonds are a common gift.
The traditional recipe below, from Farina’s Asian Pantry, is for Badam Halwa, a rich and delicious Indian sweet made with pureed almonds and eaten at Diwali.
Badam Halwa (Almond Dessert)
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup whole or lowfat milk
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of a salt
1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder
5 to 6 saffron threads
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds
Soak the almonds in warm water for 3 to 4 hours, or until the almond pops out of the skin when squeezed. Remove all the almonds skins and use a blender to grind the almonds with the milk until until a thick paste forms.
In a medium non-stick pan over medium low heat, melt the ghee and add the almond puree. Stir the mixture slowly until it begins to thicken, 7 to 10 minutes. It will tend to stick to the bottom of the pan, so keep stirring. Add the sugar, ground cardamom and saffron to the almond mixture and stir well. Continue to cook over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture turns golden brown and comes together into a single mass.
Serve warm in small bowls garnished with toasted almonds.
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