The idea of nut butters may be a relatively new concept to the indian diet. But the practice of grinding different kinds of whole nuts has existed since ancient times.
The kaju katli and badam katli are examples of traditional sweets made with predominantly cashew nuts and almonds. When blended with ghee and sugar and eaten in the colder months of the year, these sweets are thought to fortify the body and provide adequate energy for an active lifestyle.
The process of grinding with granite stones is a practice which really does go back thousands of years. The way the masons chiseled the stones by hand and made these traditional kitchen equipment speaks volumes of the skilled craftspersons of yesteryear India.
When ingredients were crushed in this manner, the rhythmic cycles of the hand and arm movements allowed for just enough pressure to do the grinding without generating heat. That in turn led to nutrients being left intact in these native ingredients.
Peanuts, sesame, groundnuts, coconuts, pistachios, cashew nuts and almonds were ground painstakingly to suit various needs. A badam milk or badam kheer flavoured with delicate strands of saffron is another popular delicacy at celebrations and family gatherings.
With the grinding stones going silent and people relying more on electrical equipment in the urban kitchens, these lifestyle modifications have come at a price. Health has taken a fair beating having us re-examine our choices.
The tags; ‘handmade’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘stone-ground’, ‘cold pressed' etc are being understood with new respect and awareness. An almond butter, slow roasted in a kadai and stone ground is obviously a better product than a commercial almond butter made using electrical grinders .
The stone ground butter keeps the nutrients intact and allows for the slow release of oil, ensuring a correct grinding process. At TBOF, we use a variety of badaam indigenous to Asia and sweeten the butter with the TBOF handmade natural jaggery and uses no preservatives or additives. A natural product of this kind with no added trans fats is the healthiest alternative to commercial butters which have too much salt and refined sugar.
Eating a highly processed nut butter loaded with additives and harmful fats negates the whole purpose of eating these protein rich butters.
A natural stone ground butter on the other hand offers so many benefits. It is a great breakfast or snack option on whole grain toast or crackers. Almond butter can also be added to make a banana smoothie with some honey and a dash of cinnamon or vanilla.
This creamy nut butter makes for a delicious dip for fresh seasonal fruits. Add a few extra ingredients and it can also be turned into a satisfying dip to accompany crunchy vegetable crudites.
The Fit India movement encourages an active lifestyle which is a combination of adequate sleep , fitness and good food habits. To nourish our body with small amounts of food periodically does really help in keeping lethargy at bay. Stone ground nut butters are a rich source of iron, magnesium and antioxidants.
For a quick dessert, suggested by Vegan health expert, Radhi Devlukia Shetty, slit open some dates, fill generously with almond butter and top with some chopped chocolate. The chewy sweetness from the dates compliments the creaminess of the butter and chocolate deliciousness to make a mouthful of amazing flavours and textures. Healthy snacking is far from boring and it really does open the mind to infinite possibilities.