One of my coworkers soon became a very dear friend. She is Jain, which means she respects even the smallest lifeforms, like an ant. She is such a fascinating lady and I learn so much from her. A while ago, her mother was visiting from Kenya around Diwali (the Indian festival of lights) and the duo were quite busy in the kitchen. Every day, I got new treats at the office, the most memorable of which were paper-thin candy decorated with sliced almonds and saffron threads called Ice Halwa. (Get my recipe here.) I loved it so much that I learned how to make it and was surprised how easily it came together. The other was a crunchy almond fudge called Badam Paak. Badam is the Sanskrit word for almond and Pak means “sweet.”
This fudge is made with a very unusual ingredient called gum arabica which is the sap of the acacia tree. It adds a delightful crunch and is thought to be nutritious, especially for new mothers. Gum Arabica can be difficult to find, so don’t worry if you can’t get it. This recipe makes a boatload of candy which freezes very well, so it’s ready for unexpected guests. Take a little box to the host when you go to a dinner party and you’ll be the talk of the evening!
Fills: 9×13 casserole pan
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Chill: 2 hrs
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tsp sugar
2 Tb hot water
2 sticks (8 oz) butter
2 Tb gum arabica (optional)
1 cup semolina
½ cup ground almonds
¾ cup milk powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 can condensed milk
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds to garnish.
Butter a 9×13 baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper for the bottom. Set aside.
Use a small mortar & pestle to grind saffron with a tsp of sugar. Then steep with 2 Tb hot water. Set aside.
Add gum arabica, if using. Fry til it starts crackling.
Add semolina and cook, stirring frequently, ~ 20 mins.
Add milk powder and mix to incorporate. The mixture will become crumbly.
Add cardamom, prepared saffron, ground almonds. Cook ~5 mins.
Add sweetened condensed milk.
Continue stirring and cooking til the mixture no longer sticks to the sides of the pan or the spoon.
Transfer to prepared baking dish or food-safe silicon mold.
Smooth the top.
Sprinkle sliced almonds and press them gently into warm fudge.
Transfer to fridge and chill 2 hrs.
Cut into squares and enjoy with freshly brewed tea or coffee.
Balancing your Vata
Badam Pak is a traditional Indian dessert that is as delicious as it is nutritious. Almonds hold great medicinal value in Ayurveda and are used to strengthen both the mind and body. They are said to boost intellect, enhance memory, rejuvenate physical and mental being. Because of this, Badam Pak is offered during times of Vata imbalance, such as low energy, infertility, pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding.
Foods that are naturally sweet, sour or salty.
Warm (“Garmi“) foods.
Whole foods, cooked fresh.
Legumes, including mung dal, tofu/tempeh and warm soy milk spiced with cinnamon & nutmeg.
Mildly warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin.
Plenty of warm drinks and herbal teas.
Dairy, as long as it is not very cold. Avoid drinking milk with your meals. It is best to have it warm and spiced with cinnamon & nutmeg, at least an hour before or after other food.
A generous amount of high-quality oils or ghee daily.
Enjoy your meals at consistent times each day in a peaceful setting.
Taking a deep breath when finishing your meal and before starting your next activity.
Things to avoid
Foods that are bitter and pungent.
Foods that are cooling (“Sardi“).
Dry and light foods, such as popcorn and crackers.
Too much raw food, especially in the mornings and evenings (e.g., salads, carrot sticks, raw fruit, fresh fruit and vegetable juices).
Highly processed foods (like canned, packaged foods, frozen meals).
Caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants.
Overeating or eating heavy meals.
Eating fresh fruit or drinking fruit juice within 1/2 hour of any other food.
Refined sugar or corn syrup.