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.
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.