This dish is unfortunately not my favorite. It has all of my favorite flavors; Dates, saffron, honey, almonds and rose water. That the combination does not work for me is a failing on the part of my taste buds to appreciate the subtle and complex flavors that this imparts as a sweet and mild dessert. I think I would prefer the dates as an added side note to coconut ice cream…but that’s another story! This is a very good good medieval Middle Eastern dessert, unfortunately I just can not appreciate the flavors melded together as much as I prefer the individual tastes separately!
Wash Iraqi dried dates in hot water and remove the pits and replace them with almonds or pistachios. Boil syrup and honey and skim. Then throw the dates in it, and when it has come to the boil twice, leave it until it is cold. Colour with saffron and flavour with musk and rose-water.
Rodison, pp. 463
1 lb dates 1/3 C Almonds or Pistachios
1 C sugar 1 C honey
1/8 tsp saffron 1 tsp rose-water
I took large Mejdool dates and used a rather thick wooden skewer to push the date seeds out the bottom, leaving the date intact and ready to be filled with almonds (or pistachios).
Here are the, now, pitted dates with almonds and honey to the side. As you can see, the skewer is a fairly thick type which holds up better to the pushing outof the date seeds then thinner skewers.
Stuff pitted dates with pistachios (or almonds).
Here I am stuffing the date with 2 almonds each, as the dates are pretty large. You can probably fit 3-4 pistachios per date if you prefer pistachios to almonds.
Bring sugar and honey with a little water to a boil.
I added the saffron a little early and I’m not sure that adding the saffron at this stage helped the flavor. I might suggest experimenting as saffron does have a strong flavor. Add the saffron either as the honey boils or at the end of the boiling, when the dates are cooling in the honey.
Once the syrup has boiled and has been skimmed add the stuffed dates.
Make sure there is enough honey to cover the dates. If there is not enough honey for the dates to bath in, scorching will occur which will ruin the flavor. Do not be afraid of adding more honey and sugar to keep the dates from scorching!
Let the mixture boil two times then add saffron and rose-water. The flavor is light and distinctive for the combination of sweet and rose.
Here are the cooked dates in their glossy goodness. I will probably do this dish again and experiment with the flavoring for my own tastes as the 2nd try was not as good as I remembered from the first time doing this. Try this on your own and have fun with the flavor!