Caramel coated and chocolate coated nuts you must have eaten a lot and must have exchanged as gifts too. Jaggery coated almonds are a better way to consume sweetened nuts without the emulsifiers and preservatives in the industrially produced coated nuts.
Come winter and North India starts stocking up nuts although it is much more sensible to keep eating nuts throughout the year. But there is a tradition of making panjeeris and laddus using an assortment of nuts in all North Indian families, some spices and edible gum etc is added to prepare oneself for the colder climes that we pretend to enjoy a lot.
In fact our winters are just a respite from the dreaded sultry summer that seems to drain all energy from us. Mangoes are the only solace. And then we enjoy our winters with rich foods of all sorts.
I made these jaggery coated almonds for another reason. I added a few spices to the jaggery syrup to help my frequent headaches and I am glad it is proving good. Long back a friend of mine had suggested a panjeeri made of almonds, poppy seeds and pepper corns when she came to know about my migraine. I remember I was breastfeeding Mithi during that time and used to be hungry all the time. I just started taking a few raw almonds, a spoonful of poppy seeds and a few peppercorns and chewing them all together for a while. Making a panjeeri felt too much work but when this mix helped my migraine I started stocking up this panjeeri and religiously had a spoonful everyday with milk.
But then life kept throwing other challenges and I forgot doing all of that, so much so that I couldn't even remember this magical almond panjeeri that had helped me some 15 years ago. Recently I asked friends on my facebook wall about migraine cures and one of those suggestions was about a panjeeri. It took me back in time and brought back my old panjeeri recipe.
I add a bit of nutmeg too to the panjeeri whose recipe is simple. Raw almonds, poppy seeds, black peppercorns and nutmeg are powdered together in mixie and kept in airtight jars. I make about 200 gm at a time and keep refreshing the stock as it takes just about 5 minutes to make it. If you want the recipe of this panjeeri you can ask in comments, I will update the exact recipe here.
This time when I made these jaggery coated almonds I thought of using some of the pajeeri ingredients so this snack helps me with the bigger issue too. The good news is that it has been working fine. But this snack is for everyone and can be made without these spices too.
(enough to last a month for a family of 2 if they eat sensibly)
250 gm raw almonds
150 gm jaggery
50 gm poppy seeds
5 gm (2 level tsp) ginger powder, you can add more
dash or nutmeg powder
dash of clove powder
pinch of salt
Dry roast the almonds on very low heat for about 10 minutes. Cool.
You can roast for longer if you like very crunchy roasted almonds.
Chop the jaggery using a sturdy knife. I use my cleaver for this sweet job :-)
Transfer the chopped jaggery to a deep pan (kadhai) and add just 2 tbsp water to wet the jaggery so it starts melting.
Now place the pan over stove and start stirring it once in a while. The jaggery melts and starts simmering. After about 5 minutes the jaggery mix will start bubbling and then frothing.
The syrup is ready.
To test the readiness of syrup you can drop a small droplet in chilled water and check it. The droplet should get solid immediately. Take off the stove.
Now add all the spices and poppy seeds in the jaggery and mix vigorously. Add the almonds too and stir to coat them all. Keep stirring till the mix looks dry and all almonds are coated. It takes just a couple of minutes.
You may get some loose dry jaggery mix at the bottom of the pan but that is okay. It will be like a spiced sugar you can add to your cereal.
This is an addictive snack trust me. Be warned and be prepared for people stealing it from the jar. Keep it safe if you don't want kids getting loosies after eating too much almonds and adults refusing to have dinner after handfuls of jaggery coated almonds for evening snack.
Ration it. All good things are rationed in life. Jaggery coated almonds are precious.