Dates never fail to satisfy as a snack, an accompaniment to coffee, or as an integral ingredient to tasty treats. Swati Basu Das finds some recipes that really deliver for this most delectable of dried fruits.
For many like Badar Al Abri, who lives in a village near Quriyat, date palms are rightly considered to be the “tree of life” – a symbol of love and prosperity.
A visit to the Sultanate’s date farms unfolds an exquisitely cultivated custom among locals.
This ‘tree of life’, is planted in the garden and acquires a family status the moment a child is born in the family.
Badar explains: “As our forebearers specified – Planting a date palm when a child is born in the family will bring prosperity and provide him/her with all nourishment through the lifetime. The date palm will grow to represent the child in this garden. Most locals follow the saying.”
As we embrace this legend, let’s also consider a few more factors that make dates a ‘super fruit’.
From dark or light brown to ebony black, the syrupy richness of the tender date fruits contains wholesome nutritional goodness.
Holding its religious significance during the Holy month of Ramadan, this cardinal fruit is an energy-filled portion of a balanced diet during the iftar.
The nutritional facts: Apart from providing a high level of energy, dates help to maintain a healthy blood-sugar level. The probiotic fibre and phytosterol in date fruit absorb cholesterol. During the Holy month, having date fruit before consuming the complex food helps in the digestive process. Taken on an empty stomach, a date fruit nourishes, detoxifies and cleanses the body.
Types of dates: Date palms constitute 80 per cent of all fruit crops produced in Oman.
Khunaizi and Khalas are the most delicious table dates. The bright yellow khalas contains 65 per cent sugar and is the most delightful, followed by the dark red khasab and fardh.
Eaten fresh during the season and/or half a day later, the yield comes from Ibri.
The reddish-yellow qashtabaq, light-yellow hilali dates with 60 per cent sugar content, naghal and mebselli also make it into the chart.
Let dates not only be your perfect starter during your fasting month but also a key ingredient in your sweet treats.
No-Bake Vegan Date Brownies
Sticky-sweet and satisfyingly fudgy, these delicious vegan treats are a staple for iftar or suhoor!
(one cup = 150g)
• 1 cup chopped Medjool dates
• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1 cup almond butter or other nut butter
• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Soak dates in hot water to cover in a medium bowl for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water.
• Meanwhile, line a 20cm-square baking tray with parchment paper, leaving extra hanging over two sides. Lightly coat with a cooking spray.
• Process oats in a food processor until finely ground. Add the drained dates, nut butter, cocoa powder and salt; process until very finely chopped. If the mixture seems dry, add a little of the reserved soaking water, one tablespoon at a time. Spread the mixture evenly and firmly into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until cold, for about one hour. Remove from the pan by lifting the overhanging parchment. Cut into 16 squares.
• To make ahead: refrigerate for up to 4 days.
It’s a Date! Shake Recipe
Cooling, sweet, and delicious, this summer thirst-quencher offers up a delightful twist on the traditional milkshake.
• ¼ cup soy, rice or almond milk
• 565ml, dairy-free vanilla ice cream
• 1 cup ice
• 8 Medjool dates, pitted
• In a blender, combine non-dairy milk and ice cream. Blend until smooth. Add more non-dairy milk, if needed. Add ice and blend again until smooth. Add dates and blend until incorporated, leaving some chunky pieces remaining. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Baked Oatmeal with Figs & Dates
Breakfast never tasted so decadently good as with a heaping helping of this lushly sweet and satisfyingly crunchy oatmeal.
• 3 Tbsp, finely-chopped pecans
• ¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar
• 1 Tbsp, arrowroot or cornstarch
• 3 Tbsp, unsalted butter
• 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
• 1 tsp, baking powder
• ½ tsp, ground cinnamon
• 6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 large egg
• 2 fresh figs, thinly-sliced
• Preheat the oven to 220°C.
• Combine the chopped pecans, one tablespoon of the raw sugar and the arrowroot in a small bowl. Place the butter in a deep 20cm pie dish and put it into the oven for five minutes, just until the butter has melted. Swirl the melted butter around the pan to grease it, then scoop out two teaspoons of the butter and add to the pecan mixture. Stir the pecan mixture together and then set aside.
• In a large bowl combine the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, chopped dates and remaining 1/4 cup of raw sugar. Add the egg, milk and remaining melted butter to the bowl then stir together well. Pour the mixture into the buttered pie dish and decorate with the sliced figs. Sprinkle the pecan streusel mixture over top.
• Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until browned around the edges and set. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt and fresh fruit.