A staple of the Middle East, dates have many values, much of which is health benefits. Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. It’s important to remember that the sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%, so when I use dates in a recipe I find that it hardly needs any additional sugar. The dates alone do a splendid job as sweetener. The remainder of dates consist of other elements, including protein and fiber. You can conclude that dates are a fortified fruit, which is why many people have turned to it for making milk shakes and smoothies. Have you ever tried the Nekter Date Smoothie? It is so rich and filling that one of those will last you all day.
Today I’m combining two jewels of the Middle Eastern palate. Dates and Saffron. Saffron has long been one of the most prized and expensive spices in the world. The richly saturated golden hue is reflective of the powerful qualities it holds as well as its status as one of the kings of the spice world. This vibrant spice has been used across the centuries for a broad range of medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Saffron also has a long-standing reputation as an aphrodisiac. It is said that Cleopatra added saffron to her baths to enhance the pleasure of her sexual forays.
Pairing the lighter stimulating spice, saffron with heavy, rich foods is a common practice in regions of the Middle East and that is just what I did with this recipe. I took rich and heavy cream, with sweet and succulent dates, and enhanced them with saffron. This is a dish that is eaten during the times of Ramadan and I think it can be a great addition to celebrations, such as the current Muslim festival of Eid al Adha. Saffron and Dates are traditionally combined for delicious milky treats, which I think will be lovely in the morning for this occasion.
6-8 chopped and pitted dates
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
5-6 strands saffron
almonds or pistachios (optional)
- Soak chopped dates in milk overnight.
- Soak saffron sands in cream for 30 minutes.
- Heat dates and milk mixture, bring to boil and turn off heat immediately.
- Add saffron and cream mixture.
- Serve warm or cold topped with nuts. (optional)