Hais (Date and Pistachio Balls)

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This is a sweet chewy almost crunchy almost melt in your mouth treat that never goes bad.  Well okay, maybe if left outside for a couple of months they might get a taaaad moldy; however once you’ve had a bite of this you’ll never have to worry about any of these laying around…they  go fast!



Take fine dry bread, or biscuit, and grind up well.  Take a ratl of this, and three quarters of a ratl of fresh or preserved dates with the stones removed, together with three uqiya of ground almonds and pistachios.  Knead all together very well with the hands.  Refine two uqiya of sesame-oil, and pour over, working with the hand until it is mixed in.  Make into Cabobs, and dust with fine ground sugar.  If desired, instead of sesame-oil use butter.  This is excellent for travelers.

Al-Baghdadi p.214/14, A Miscelleny p. 101


2 2/3 C bread crumbs                                       2/3 C ground pistachio

2 C pitted dates                                                4 TBS sesame oil

1/3 C ground almonds                                      ½ C sugar

My Redaction:

I’ve made this recipe a few times.  Each time I experiment a little more.  In the past I’ve used store bought “plain” bread crumbs.  Fast easy and readily available.  A very nice time savor.  This time, since i had been in a bread making mood, I used the bread made from the Khushkananaj dough.  This dough bakes into a wonderful,  sesame flavored, flat bread that when left out to “dry” or go stale, grinds down into the perfect bread crumbs.   (I let the flat bread sit for about 2 hours after pulling from the oven before grinding into crumbs).   If you haven’t made enough of the Khushkananaj flat bread or run out of store bought bread crumbs, I substituted some whole grain bread crumbs (made from whole grain bread toasted then ground up).  The bread crumbs become a little more substantial and not quite  so “light”.

bread crumbs

I found I liked the taste of the home made (even with the whole grain bread crumbs) a little more then that of store bought but that doesn’t mean in a pinch I won’t buy my bread crumbs again.

The pistachios were ground prior to the start of this recipe with the almonds bought pre-ground as well as plain bread crumbs.   ingredients

This picture shows the Khushkananaj bread crumbs prior to the whole grain bread crumbs being added.  (The picture doesn’t show ALL the dates necessary, just about a cups worth.)

I combined the dry ingredients (excluding the very sticky dates) in a large bowl.

breadcrubms w sugar pistachios

Now I had some of the almond/pistachio/spice mix left over from making Khushkananaj cookies which adds a little extra flavor to the mix.  I don’t believe that any period cook would have wasted sugar and spices by throwing out the left overs.  The left overs would have simply been incorporated into another recipe or used to experiment with.

The dates and dry ingredients were mixed together then sesame oil stirred in as needed.  The mixture was a little dry still so a extra ground up dates were added.


Here is the incorporated chopped dates and sesame oil mixed with the dry ingredients.

Once the everything has achieved a squishy consistency of well mixed ingredients, start forming balls about an inch across by rolling the dough in your hands.  If there is enough ground dates and sesame oil there should be no trouble forming balls; however if the balls start to crumble instead of compact add more dates.  The dates are sort of like the glue that binds a sweet sticky edible glue that is!

date balls

Here are a few formed ones.  Now the shape suggested is more oblong then round however the shape was very unappealing so I stuck with the ball form instead of an oblong look.

I also changed dusting with sugar to incorporating sugar into the recipe.  Dusting with sugar did two things.  The first is that the mixture is sweetened even more then just sweetness of dates.  The second is that a dusting of sugar helps to keep the date balls from sticking together.  I have found that when stored on wax paper and with the inclusion of a few extra ground nuts that sticking is not an issue.  Dust away if that is preferred though as seen dusting is not an absolute.  Time for me to go and nosh on a few of my own now!