Chaghaleh Badoom – Fresh Spring Almond

Pictured here is what we call chaghal’eh badoom in Iran — known as fresh (or green or spring) almond here in the U.S., that is if you can find it. Nestled inside its fuzzy green hull lies the young skinless almond, sleeping the sleep of the just – not yet hardened and soft in texture.

Chaghal’eh badoom arrives on the scene in early spring in Iran for a mere few weeks — greeted virtually by delighted clapping of hands — just like its kindred spirit and friendly rival, the other favorite Persian bounty and symbolic synonym of spring: goje sabz.

You remember goje sabz, right? Unripe sour green plums: juicy, tart, crisp and crunchy. You snack on them raw, crunch munch munch crunch, sprinkled lightly with salt. How do you eat chaghal’eh badoom you ask? You eat it like so:

That’s right! You eat the whole kit and caboodle. Only the stem remains! Chaghal’eh badoom is crunchy with a soft center, tastes somewhat like a quite tartly-delicious apple, and makes for a very refreshing and nutritious (not to mention addictive) snack that is also wonderful in a salad or as a garnish to brighten up a meal.

I recently met someone who informed me that in Turkey it is customary to pile a plate high with spring almonds and eat them (sprinkled with salt) while drinking beer. Which actually makes perfect sense taste and texture wise — I can imagine that the accompaniment of sat and crunch and fresh burst of tangy flavor is a very pleasant chaser for beer. I predict that a hip NY or Brooklyn bar will get wind of this soon enough and offer these !

Goje sabz and chaghal’eh badoom are also used to make khoresh and preserves and some-such in Iranian cuisine but since they are scarcely available here, I am reluctant to cook them and prefer to enjoy them in their natural glory and savor their unique refreshing burst of taste and ultra-satisfactory crunch that needs nary an embellishment save for the sprinkling of some salt.

Who knows how the idea of eating unripe almonds and unripe plums got started but whoever got the ball rolling created a fad that has lasted for thousands of years! Once you experience the fresh and crunchy taste of the spring almond and sour green plum for yourself I reckon you’ll jump on the bandwagon as well.

That’s it!

Happy Earth Day. Life is our gift. Earth is our home.

ps. Coming attractions: Halva (a type of Persian sweet that is made with rosewater and cardamom and other nice things) recipe post + how to make homemade rosewater! Stay tuned.

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Comments (47)

  • Darya 11 years ago Reply

    Azita, this brings back wonderful memories of travelling in the North of Iraq in early May a couple of years ago. We would grab some almonds and dip them into a little bag of salt, at first it was strange, but then I grew to love it! We did the same with wild rhubarb as well (after peeling). Nobody told me that you were supposed to do the same with the plums, as a result, I never really learned to like them! Will know how to try them next time I go (if I ever go back).

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Darya, That’s so interesting and I didn’t know at all about eating wild rhubarbs. I just Googled images of it. Those must be particularly tart. Give me sour and salty and crunchy and I’m smitten. You are an adventurous traveler, aren’t you! Thank you for sharing your story, I love tidbits like this.

  • leduesorelle 11 years ago Reply

    Gorgeously fuzzy, I want some just to hold! Where do you find such things?

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    they ARE fun to hold, and look like little itty bitty cute things.
    I found these at Sahadi’s in Brooklyn and Kalustyan in Manhattan also has some.

  • arefadib 11 years ago Reply

    Absolutely beautiful images!

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    thank you Mehrdad – I was trying something different and appreciate the support! del gharmi mideh! 🙂

  • The Healthy Epicurean 11 years ago Reply

    gorgeous photos and wonderful descriptions!

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    thank you!!

  • Melissa Brody 11 years ago Reply

    Beautiful photos! I saw those fuzzy green olives at the fruit stand around the corner and wasn’t sure what to make of them. I think I need to run back and get a bag before they’re all gone!

  • Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Oh, run! Run! I’d love to hear how you would describe the taste. And this was at a fruit stand? in the city or Brooklyn? I got mine at Sahadi’s … I myself will now be on the lookout at various fruit-stands lol …. the little green plums are super tasty too so grab those as well if you find some, it’s like the healthiest crunchiest snack ever

  • mycookinglifebypatty 11 years ago Reply

    Those are exsquisite looking! I wonder if they might be found in a local middle eastern market I saw . . .

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Let’s hope so. If they don’t have it, ask them to stock up. They will if there’s a demand for it.

  • apuginthekitchen 11 years ago Reply

    The photo’s are amazing!!! You eat the whole almond??? How is the fuzzy feeling in the mouth? I am sure they are delicious, I love raw green almonds but never thought to eat the whole thing. Amazing!!

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Yup! You eat the whole thing. The tongue definitely senses the fuzziness but it’s very subtle and pleasant – so it’s not like putting a hairball in your mouth and combined with the crunchy contrast and very fresh, raw and tart taste of the inside, the whole thing together combines into a pleasurable bite. I just heard from an interesting woman I met that in Turkey they eat these while drinking beer, which makes perfect sense actually. Someone should pitch the idea to a hip bar!

    apuginthekitchen 11 years ago

    Good idea, take some with you to bar, people will ask what you are eating and maybe the idea will catch on.

  • Maria Dernikos 11 years ago Reply

    Your photographs are so beautiful. A real feast for the eyes.

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you Maria! 🙂

  • johnnysenough hepburn 11 years ago Reply

    Wow, I’ve never seen them before. As I adore almonds I’m sure to love ’em. However, unripe plums is probably pushing it. I’ve had an authentic Keralan sour mango curry and wasn’t overly keen.

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Johnny, based on getting a feeling for your taste from your recipe posts, trust me when I predict that you’d actually quite enjoy the sour plums. they are more mildly tart than sour and quite juicy and also crisp. Perhaps at some point in the future I’ll get to test this theory in person – maybe when dining at your promised sea-side summer cafe? 😉

  • gwynnem 11 years ago Reply

    Nice color palette for Earth Day!

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you for noticing!! 🙂

  • ahu 11 years ago Reply

    Dahanam aab oftad!!! I gotta find some gojeh sabz now 🙂

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    ha ha! Hope you find some Ahu jan!

  • Fae's Twist & Tango 11 years ago Reply

    Your beautiful post brought back fond nostalgic memories. When we returned to Iran from Japan, I couldn’t stop eating these… as if eating chips. Of course there were consequences too 😉

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Dear Fae, so pleased that this sparked fond memories for you. And funny enough, you’re the second person to bring up the dark side of this snack … it is addictive and one is tempted to gobble one up after the other but too many and there shall be … consequences as you say! 😉

  • chef mimi 11 years ago Reply

    Oh, I wish I could try these! Beautiful photos!

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you! I wish I had a warehouse full and could ship it to everyone. Check with your local international grocers – odds are not entirely slim that they might carry it. (People in Turkey, China, Iraq, Japan eat these as well.)

  • tableofcolors 11 years ago Reply

    What an interesting post! I would love to try the spring almonds and green plums! They sound so exotic to me 🙂

  • Lilly Sue 11 years ago Reply

    Never had this! I guess you learn something new everyday 🙂 I love almonds and would imagine I would love spring almonds! 🙂

  • sybaritica 11 years ago Reply

    Wow … I remember those from when I was a very small child in Libya. I haven’t thought of them since. I’ve never run across them in Canada 🙁

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    They have only within the past decade made an appearance in specialty international groceries in NY and also in the DC area and I’m pretty sure perhaps in LA as well. Why not reach out to your local mid-east store and ask them to stock up next season? Until then, a nostalgic trip down the memory lane is not too painful I hope!

    sybaritica 11 years ago

    Sadly, my nearest middle-eastern store (or any specialty store) is about 2000km away. I have to save my shopping trips for twice a year 🙁

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago

    Oh dear! I got an image from “Northern Exposure” flashing in my head 😉 Next bi-annual shopping trip you make, if you’re up for sharing pix of your loot, I’d love to see pictures and maybe share the image on this blog.. if you like.

    sybaritica 11 years ago

    Actually, I have done that a couple of times on my blog… Here is one:
    If you scroll to thebottom, you can see what I bought!

  • laurasmess 11 years ago Reply

    Aw yum! I want one! I am pretty sure that I’ve never seen any of these in the shops over here… but you’re completely right, they’d be a fantastically unique bar snack (I recently heard that Mexican bars are starting to stock deep-fried grasshoppers over here in Australia, so I guess raw almonds won’t be that much of a stretch!). I haven’t tried an unripe plum either… I’m starting to feel that my life is vastly lacking in this area! I want to do the whole ‘crunch munch munch’ thing that you’ve described. Love it! I’m going almond hunting!! xx

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    deep-fried grasshoppers? hmmm, not that adventrous myself but can totally see it becoming a “thing” ha ha. Laura, I wish I could send a bushel to taste. One day technology will catch up to food-bloggers comraderie and desire to share things with each other!

  • I found your blog through Laura’s 🙂
    I wait for spring to enjoy these wonderful short lived green treats.
    The crunch of green almonds with a bit of salt is irresistable indeed

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Hi, thank you for visiting and commenting! I used to think eating these was strictly an Iranian thing but have come to realize so many countries share the passion. I’m glad you can find these were you are!

  • […] find out more about these ephemeral spring-time treats, visit Fig & Quince, where the ever-ebullient Azita spins her tales of modern Persian cookery with infectious […]

  • Preppy Pink Crocodile 11 years ago Reply

    Oh wow- I’ve never heard of either of these before. But I’ll keep a lookout for them at my local farmer’s market from now on. I love trying new food treats!
    KK @ Preppy Pink Crocodile

    Fig & Quince 11 years ago Reply

    Cool, I love that this peeked your interest. LOVE your handle name by the way. It’s awesome!

  • […] all the museums, check out the art galleries in Tehran, and go to the holy shrines. I want to eat chaghaleh badoom and gojeh sabz, I want to taste the sour-cherry lavashak, I want to sit on a good Persian rug and […]

  • Susan Highland 9 years ago Reply

    I was pointed to this site from a gardenweb poster who was responding to someone who had pruned their apricot trees. He hoped that they hadn’t tossed the immature ones because they make a great Persian snack. So I asked for the recipe and got pointed here. Bravely, I went to our apricot tree and thinned a few immature apricots. I cut them in half, tossed them in salt, and I’m trying them now. Sour and salty and crunchy. Hope I don’t die! 🙂

    Fig & Quince 9 years ago Reply

    Hi Susan!
    So …uh … chahgaleh badoom are unripe almonds not unripe apricots! How DID the unripe apricots taste? Maybe this will be a new trend. In any event: Hope you’re still with us? 😉
    Meanwhile, once your apricots do ripen, I do have a super simple and very tasty way of enjoying them:
    & Nooshe’ joon in advance!

  • […] have a noticed a pattern with Iranians and their love of unripe fruit and: it’s true!  Be it unripe almonds (chaghaleh badoom چاقاله بادوم ), unripe green plums (gojeh sabz گوجه سبز), and […]

  • […] wit, we have unripe almonds (chaghaleh badoom چاقاله بادوم ), unripe green plums (gojeh sabz گوجه سبز), and […]

  • […] even if not trendy tidings. Guess what’s available aplenty in the bazaars in Tehran? Chaghaleh badoom – unripe almonds – the emblem of spring in Iran. Harvested and gathered in lushly […]

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