The Indian Almond tree, or Desi Badem in Urdu, is not a relative of the almond tree you probably know, Prunus dulcis,(sweet almond tree) which is related to the peach tree, so please don’t try any of the remedies below with the almond tree in your garden. They won’t work. The Indian Almond (Terminalia catappa) is also known as the Sea Almond, because it has a high tolerance of salt, or the Tropical Almond. Actually it is related to Terminalia arjuna or arjuna and Terminalia chebula or hareer. It is believed to have originated in south western Asia, but it grows in South East Asia too, as well as in parts of South America. The nuts, which like other almonds are the seeds of the tree, are edible, and can be eaten raw, whereas the ones we know have to be treated before eating. In South America, the oil from the seeds is used in cooking, but on the subcontinent it is mainly used in medicine, and is sometimes used as hair oil.
The sap from the leaves has been used to treat skin diseases, ranging from mild itching and rashes, to leprosy. The leaves can be boiled and made into a mushy paste which is put on rheumatic joints to help ease the pain. The sap or gum from the tree is good to treat dysentery and to get rid of intestinal parasites. Because the leaves and seeds are rich in tannin, they have been used in South East Asia to produce dark dyes, for centuries.
Nigerian and Indian medical researchers have been investigating the medical properties of this plant, and have discovered that the traditional medical practitioners were right about its uses. They now believe that the seeds and leaves have properties which could help in the treatment of HIV, they have anti-clastogenic properties, which means they can prevent chromosomes breaking. They are also astringent and can help staunch the flow of blood from a wound. They also have antioxidant properties and there are hopes that they can help in the treatment of diseases associated with diabetes, as they assist the liver and pancreas to function properly and protect the liver from acute damage. Eating the kernel or ‘almond’ will, say medical practitioners, help men with sexual dysfunctional problems, such as premature ejaculation, or impotence.
Traditionally the leaves have been used to relieve headaches, and are said to be refreshing. Like the Neem tree, the Kikar tree and the banyan, this tree is important for medicine, and you can eat the ‘nuts’.
The recipe below however is for almonds (Prunus dulcis) which are readily available wherever you are.
MACKEREL WITH GREEN BEANS AND ALMONDS
4 mackerel, cleaned
1 glass white wine
500gr green beans, topped, tailed and sliced length ways
75 gr blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to a medium heat. Put silver foil on a baking tray and the sliced beans and almonds, in a layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil (olive is best) and cook for 10 mins.
Now add the fish, on top of the beans and almonds and pour the white wine over them. Cover with another tight fitting piece of foil and cook for a further 45 mins.
This has Taste and is a Treat.