Almond Joy
(an Almond Oil Obsession)
 

Back in 2002, while visiting my daughter Sat Prakash in Amritsar, Punjab State, India, I bought some almond oil (badam rogan) in one of the local shops. This oil smelled really, really sweet.... sort of like almond extract but much even better! This was surprising to me because for many years I had bought the Hain and Spectrum brands in the U.S. and it never smelled like anything close to an almond. Even the high priced massage oils didn't have any hint of an almond scent. 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
flavor to their almond oil, or something, to sell it to gullible tourists.

So on my next trip to India I took it upon myself to find out the "Truth" of what was going on here....my own
little JFK, Martin and Malcolm conspiracy story. I started asking questions and the first two people I asked (one
American and one a 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, this first guy did
seem to have some pretty wild ideas in other subject 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",
that's a potential rabbit hole,....where you could end up pondering who made the *birds and trees and plastic
in the beginning*. Not objective at all. Belief systems may 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 of almonds processed
in the west? and perhaps even the vital essence? 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, Marzipan and, oh yeah, Almond Joy. 

By the way, in 2004 I paid 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 we'll have
a
"scratch and sniff" app.

 




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