Badam ki Jaali and Ashrafi are two very interesting sweets I discovered through my photographer friend Sanjay Bora. I’d gone to Hyderabad for a short trip and Sanjay asked me to come to the Old City. He’d found the original Badam Ki Jaali and knew that I’d been on the lookout for the authentic version of this sweet. I borrowed a bike and sped off to Old City. I know most gullies in Old City and finding Aziz Bagh wasn’t a big challenge. It turned out to be a quaint residential neighbourhood, close to Noor Khan Bazaar.
So Badam ki Jaali and Ashrafi turned out to be real classics. There are only a couple of families here that make these sweets and they too are related. Both sweets are made from marzipan using almond meal and sugar. Badam ki jali is usually cut into different shapes and at times, cut into pattern with Urdu writings for special occasions. The original recipe had eggs, but slowly the customer base for these sweets expanded and they started getting many non muslim clientele. Hence eggs were removed from the recipe of both sweets. Badam ki jali’s also lightly baked at the end to give it a slight colour.
Ashrafi on the other hand, isn’t baked. But has saffron and some yellow colour added. Ashrafi were the special gold coins issued by the Nizam of Hyderabad. These weren’t the local currency, but specially issued gold coins. And had a special significance in Hyderabad. The ashrafi is made by putting marzipan in between of two moulds that have the same inscription of the Nizam’s gold coins. The sides are then cut and smoothened.
Badam ki Jali and Ashrafi are mostly now made from cashew to keep costs low. Almond is used only for special orders. Only the ‘mawa’ variety of almond is used to make Badam ki Jali and Ashrafi. It’s usually more expensive than regular almonds.
Happy hunting and chowder-on!