Wednesday 21 December 2022

Sau Badam ni Curry - Curry made from 100 Almonds

 "Aik so aik," Badam ni Curry

The 100-almond curry was cooked using a large quantity of almonds that were ground into an almond meal, hence the name "sau badam ni" curry. Badam Ni Curry can be prepared using chicken or lamb. The key is to perfectly cook your meat of choice and keep the gravy as little or as much as you want before adding the finishing ingredients, which should make it aromatic, sumptuous, and rich.

Yes, I counted the almonds before testing it, and I like to call it aik so aik badam ni curry—101 almond curry. This is keeping in mind that our culture gives parikas—envelopes filled with money—on joyous occasions like weddings, birthdays, and navjotes, and we always add one to any amount we choose to offer. This is considered auspiciously lucky, and, in reference to being "in abundance," that gives a continuation of giving a little bit more.

Cooking with almonds has always been a source of excitement for me, and it adds a slightly exotic flair to the dish. Although the reason for counting the almonds appears mundane, it has a lovely ring to it. The title does elicit thought.

Don't worry, though; there won't be any arithmetic required of you here. Using fresh almond meal or simply measuring whole almonds by weight accomplishes the same task. If you intend to make the almond meal at home, leave the almonds whole with their brown skin. Usually, if something is ready, it has already been blanched. Both will work well.

This curry, like all others, has variations: a tweak here and there, a pinch of saffron, and a preference for the thickness of the curry. I like it rather thick if served with flatbreads, naans, and lavash and thinner if served on a bed of rice—boiled, with lemon, or even khichri. My family prepared it in yoghurt, while others used narial nu dudh—coconut milk. 

Yet another recipe has been revived with the promise of transporting you back a century or two.

Interestingly, this curry has been adopted from Tamil Nadu in southern India. Its origins are deemed to be from the valleys of Mosovad, and it is often referred to as Mosavadi Curry. The original Kari is prepared with equal amounts of almonds, hung curd, and cream, sometimes mixed with milk to keep it lighter. Paneer is a good substitute for hung curd, but the textures differ. Prepared with onions, garlic, and ginger, it is flavoured with garam masalo, turmeric, and salt. Tamils cook this in heavy amounts of pure ghee and with meat but there are neither red nor green chillies nor tomatoes added to it. 

Note: You will need a hundred and one almonds only if you double this recipe.

Serves 6

1 tbsp oil
1 dry bay leaf
10-12 pieces of chicken, skinless but with bone
1 tsp fresh ground garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

Grind together

3/4th cup fresh tomatoes
4 green chillies
2 cups water

Mix together

1 cup thick yogurt with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp garam masalo
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

In a pan heat the oil, drop in the spices and the chicken, brown it for a few minutes on low so the spices do not burn but the chicken turns colour. Add the tomato and green chilli mixture.

Bring to a boil, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.

Open the lid, turn the stove on high and let all the water evaporate until only one cup of thick gravy remains. Bring the pan off the stove and let it cool until just warm. Now add the mixture of the yogurt into it. The curry is ready to eat. Reheat gently before serving it with your choice of rice or flatbread.

Read more about Parsi Food and its origins in my cookbooks The World of Parsi Cooking Food Across Borders and The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine. And The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala


My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition is an award winning cookbook. It was published by Spenta Multimedia India and is available on Amazon India and through email order at

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

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