What’s Sweet Almond?

FR: Amande douce

GER: MandelstuRe

IT: Mandorla

SP: Almendra dulce

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BOT: Prunus amygdalus, var. dulcis sweet almonds are a flavouring of the most refined kind. In early medieval European cooking, a milk of almonds was a common ingredient. In the East, many delicate sweet dishes are flavoured with sweet almonds or tropical cuddapah almonds. Sweet almonds are also an important ingredient in a number of soups and fish or meat dishes – either whole, ground, fresh, roasted (which changes the flavour) or fried. This use of almonds is particularly common in food of Arab origin, yet one finds them used on the one hand in Spanish food (e.g., roasted for Romesco sauce) and on the other hand in the mild forms of curry and pilau out of northwest India, Pakistan and Kashmir. They are also much used in the Levant. Chicken stuffed with a lightly spiced mixture of rice and almonds is commonly eaten in the Near and Middle East. In the United States, they are often included in seafood recipes, such as those for soft-shelled crab.

In using sweet almonds it is safer to grind one’s own in a nutmill, for the ground almond sold in shops is often adulterated with cheap nut flour and spiked with a dash of bitter almond. Bitter almond will spoil the taste of any dish in which only sweet almonds are intended.

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