Almond Joy
(an Almond Oil Love Story)


Back in 2002, while visiting my daughter Sat Prakash in Amritsar, Punjab State, India, I bought some almond oil in one of the local shops. The stuff smelled really good, sort of like almond extract but much sweeter, and this was surprising to me because for many years I had bought Hain or Spectrum brand almond oil in the U.S. and it never smelled like anything close to an almond. Even the high priced massage oils didn't have any almond smell. What's the deal, olive oil smells like olives! Sesame oil smells like sesame seeds! This was perplexing, I even started to wonder if the shop owners were adding some artificial almond smell to their almond oil, or something, to sell it to stupid tourists. 

So on my next trip to India I took it upon myself to find out the "Truth" of what was going on own little JFK, Martin and Malcolm conspiracy story. I started asking questionsand the first two people I asked (one American and one local Punjabi) said that an artificial scent was added and that the shells were removed by some awful chemical method. At this point I almost threw in the towel. But then, I thought, these two guys did seem to have some pretty wild ideas in other areas, so, I  thought I'd ask my Punjabi friend Hardeep Singh if he knew where the oil was made. (Ya see, maybe it was how I posed the question. I emphasized "where" instead of "how". Check it out. An answer to "where" has to be black and white. But if you ask "how", you might end up wondering who made the "birds and plastic" in the beginning. Not objective at all. Belief systems may come into play). Well, my friend Hardeep knew where and the how never came up.  So we took a ten minute walk and came to  a very small storefront with a big room in back where the actual process took place.The pictures below tell the story. Many questions were answered. My mind was more than satisfied.

One thing though....the question still remains, "what happens to the God given scent/flavoring, and perhaps even the vital essence, that "should" be in our domestic almond oil? I mean, is it possible to remove the scent and not remove other qualities? I don't think so! I do know that there is a market for almond extract, Almondine and Marzipan. 

By the way, I pay about $10 a liter (450 rupees) for this good Punjabi Almond oil, so 
no great import opportunity here. I wish you could smell it. Maybe one day when the 
internet can do "scratch and sniff".



To make sure there was no funny stuff 

going on I wanted to know where the 
almonds came from. As it turns out many 
Sikhs are farming in California's Central 
Valley and growing almonds is one of things they do. Yeah,..... the almonds are shipped all the way from the U.S. (that's probably why no great price break on this good oil)
The Almonds are poured into the 
stone bowl and turned into a mush 
in pretty pretty quick order by this 
wooden arrangement attached to a
buffalo (mudjeon).This is basically 
a giant mortar and pestle.

Don't let anyone ever tell you that 
their job is boring.
Here's a good look from over the 
back of the moving buffalo

At the bottom you can see the 
sweet oil flowing out. This is the 
real deal. You can't believe how 
good it feels and smells.

These guys seemed amused with all the attention. The language barrier made it even more so.
Until almonds are purchased locally, 
which would bring down the price, 
it is not profitable to bring this oil
back to the states. It would make sense to press the oil here, however. 

Anybody got a buffalo just sittin 
around, not paying rent? 

(that's me in the white)



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This page last edited on: March 1, 2015