Almost every week I go food shopping at a Moroccan specialty store in my neighborhood. If you like good food, then overhere you’re at the right place. A store full of fragrant Moroccan delicacies that you know: this is where I have to be for ingredients when I want to cook something delicious. Because I have plans to prepare something with date paste in it, I have bought a large supply of Medjoul dates overthere today.
Dates. Did you know there are something like 400 different species of them? All dates are sweet, but they’re not all sold everywhere. A well-known date that can be bought almost anywhere, however, is the ‘Medjoul date’ or ‘Medjool date’. What kind of date is this and what is so special about it? When you hold a Medjoul date in your hand, you’ll be amazed of the size of it. Actually, the size of this date is also the most important feature. With a size of 3 to 7 cm (1 to 3 inches) this species belongs to the most popular and beloved dates and therefor are called ‘jumbo dates’ for a reason. The color of a ripe date is deep brown. A fresh date is thick, juicy and has a smooth skin. A dried date is soft and has a wrinkled skin. Usually, the dates are sold dried and in many cases the drying process begins when the date is still up in the tree! These large dates are one of the most expensive sorts out there, so it’s a good idea to inspect them before they actually buy them. Make sure the dates have no broken skin. Cracks in the shell, for instance, will decrease the quality of the date rapidly. The dates are supposed to be soft. Very hard dates are usually old. Try to avoid buying dates with a white sheen. The white glaze is not a fungus but a caramelised layer, the dates will still be edible, but the quality is less. Have you eaten some delicious Medjoul dates somewhere? Then surely you want to know right away where you can buy them! Sometimes this species are for sale in supermarkets, but I prefer my Moroccan specialty store. Why? Because I know they sell fresh dates and because I am sure that they are indeed Medjoul dates and no other kind. When you’re planning to buy them in the supermarket anyway, then read the package to see if you buy the real Medjoul dates! Yes, these dates are pretty expensive, but after you bought them, then you’re the owner of the ‘King of dates’! I believe it’s commonly known that dates are healthy and nutritious. They contain several vitamins which all have their own positive contribution to the body. Besides that, they also deliver all kinds of minerals and energy (in terms of calories). Because of all these nutritional values, it’s a very sound excuse to eat an extra one! The date has soft flesh and every bite is intensely sweet. Most people describe the taste as ‘honey-sweet’ and ‘caramel-like’. The taste is so sweet, you almost forget you’re eating healthy fruit! Perfect, right? Actually, you don’t have to do anything with a date. Just as eating an apple, this fruit is delightful just as it is. But if you want to use it to prepare something with? Well, dates are the ultimate sweetener and therefore an excellent substitute for refined sugar. They are therefore often used as a sugar substitute in all kinds of cakes and pastries. Make the date even healthier by changing the stone with a nut or seeds! Almonds, walnuts and sesame seeds, for instance, lend themselves very well to this.
Those moments when I’m going to use date paste, I always prepare it myself first. You can of course buy ready-made paste in the supermarket or a specialty store, but I prefer homemade. Just because its preparation is fast and easy, but most of all, because then I’m sure that there are no additives in it. Date paste is also an excellent way of topping a sandwich. A thick slice of freshly baked bread and a wide spread with date paste. Yummy, so incridibly tasty! Add a tablespoon of cocoa with the paste and there you have a delicious sweet chocolate paste. So many possibilities, so many opportunities to enjoy something as simple as date paste.
As I stated earlier, today I’m going to prepare something with date paste in it. I will put the recipe of this on my blog later on, but for starters, first this date paste recipe, simply because I don’t want to withhold it from you. For the record: I have added sesame seeds to this recipe because I need this later on, but you can skip this course or replace it with whatever seems tasty to you.