As children, every Diwali, my brother and I would chase each other up the creaky stairway that led to my maternal grandmother’s house. While our grandfather would give us a bag of crackers and a crisp white envelope filled with green notes, my grandmother would pop a piece of badam pak (almond Indian sweet) into our mouths.
If you love the taste of almond, then these colourful marzipans are worth a try. Pics/Satyajit Desai
I vividly remember the taste of the crushed almonds, flavoured with powdered sugar and elaichi, and believed that sweets of crushed almond paste are India’s best-kept secret. But that was only until last week before visiting Nordic Kandie Magic store at Peddar Road. On a Wednesday afternoon, I walk through a dark blue door and a small snow white room introduces me to marzipans from Estonia, Scandinavia.
The store manager, as he adeptly takes me through the history of marzipan, is quick to point out that the ones we have during Christmas are usually made of cashew nuts, which India has in abundance. Invented by a chemist’s young assistant when his boss fell ill in the 15th century, the young pharmacist named Mart was assigned the job to make a medicine for an ill nobleman. Back then, medicine men had to consume the contents before the patient. Mart hated the bitter taste and added almonds and sugar to it. And that was the beginning of marzipans.
The gold-coated chocolate has a Belgian chocolate crust
As I tap my fingers on the glass, wondering which one to try, the manager coaxes me to try the bite-size balls neatly lined for tastings and informs me that Nordic Kandie Magic uses Mamra almonds, rich chocolate from Belgium and edible gold and silver from Italy.
The first one I try is the plain, white chocolate almond and it rekindles my childhood memory of the badam pak minus the cardamom. One by one, I try lychee, blackcurrant and chilli mango. The first two are really magical; it’s akin to chewing the fruit itself. The third one lacks punch, and I wish there was more chilli in it.
The Nordic Kandie Magic store at Peddar Road
I pick up an assorted box of nine marzipans (Rs 1,850) — gold-covered chocolate, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, strawberry, cherry, peanut butter, green apple and fig for my colleagues. Wrapped in a satin blue box, the presentation is attractive and my colleagues and I agree that it makes for a great, though pricey, gifting option.
The peanut butter-filled marzipan packs in the right punch of sugar and salt. While the strawberry and cherry are too sweet to make us smile, green apple wins our hearts. This fruity ball is a burst of freshness on the palate, as it complements the sweetness of the almond paste. The white edible pearl confetti makes it look beautiful. A box full of just this flavour can be a real treat.
We save the ‘best’ for the last and taste the gold-covered chocolate marzipan for the last. The thin layer of aurum on our palate leaves a metallic taste in our mouth. But after a bite, we forget that taste and can’t stop savouring the Belgium chocolate crust. The almond filling, the cocoa and the gold go good together, but we would not pay Rs 350 per piece for it.
Our verdict: Priced too high, you have to be a sucker for all things with almond to appreciate Nordic’s magic.
At: Nordic Kandie Magic, Vasant Villa, shop no 1, Peddar Road, next to Cadbury House
Open: Tuesday to Sunday