3 Nov 2012

South Morocco Style Date Paste Filling / Pâte de Dattes Style Marocain, Région de Souss, Sud du Royaume!

Date paste is a wonderful natural sweetener and is commonly used in Moroccan cakes, bread, Harsah, MssamenGhribaBriwat, Kâab Ghzal (Cornes de gazelle) and so many other baked goods!  It is easy to make, much cheaper than buying it ready-made from stores and you can choose the texture for your paste, either smooth creamy or chunky.

Fresh or dried dates, a staple in Moroccan Cuisine, are served with the traditional soup Harira, BUT NEVER with fresh mint tea or coffee.  They are consumed by Moroccans all year round, especially, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, where dates are widely consumed to break the fast and it is traditionally believed that three (3) dates are to be eaten to break the fast!  On every Moroccan table, you'll find those lovely delicious dates, taking a very special place at the Ftour meal, so the best dates are bought and served in plenty alongside Harira, the traditional popular Moroccan soup.  Moroccans will never serve dates with tea or coffee, they only serve them with Harira, whose special salty sour taste goes magically so well with the sweetness and freshness of the dates.  The tastes contrasts compliment each other perfectly, a surprisingly striking combination that works amazingly, and this is one "... of those miracle combinations before which ....", Paula Wolfert wrote once in her Moroccan Cuisine Book, that  “... I sometimes feel I should bow in gratitude”!  It is commonly believed that a country can be judged by its Traditions, History, Proverbs, Legends and Festivals. The Kingdom of Morocco is one of the oldest monarchies in the world, founded over than 12 centuries ago, and because of its strong historical kingdom connections to Arab and African countries as well as having maintained strong ties to the West world, Kingdom of Morocco is unique among the eight (8) countries of Northern Africa.

In Morocco, dates are seen as an important symbol of life and religion due to the great importance attached to them by the Prophet Mohammed (SWS).  Dried or fresh, dates were an important food for travellers in the Moroccan Sahara (Desert), and were such a welcome complete nutritious meal for several caravans travellers who crossed the desert to the Mediterranean Sea.  Dates were easy to carry and no cooking or preparation was needed before consuming them, the perfect meal for travellers at that time.  Traditionally, in Morocco dates are usually associated with milk and almonds to symbolize sweetness, freshness and fruitfulness of life and love.  At  the wedding ceremony, the most expensive and best dates (such as Medjool which cost about 60 pounds (Livre sterling) per kilo), is chosen to be served for this one special occasion.  Those delicious dates are then stoned and stuffed with a dedicated almond paste, flavoured with orange blossom water.  Those most costly stuffed dates are then served, along side milk, nuts and other dried fruits to the newly-weds, just after exchanging their wedding rings.  These stuffed dates along with milk are also served to special guests, especially those who travelled long distances, a tradition that emphasize strong relationship between guests and hosts, and tells a lot about the kindness and great hospitality, which are key Moroccans values.

This is a photo of Moroccan Stuffed Dates with Almond Paste.  So delicious!
Picture and Recipe by Yasmina39, Here is her fabulous blog
Art Cuisine Marocaine By Yasmina39 (3achi9at Al Jannah)


One popular Imazighen (Berber) proverb quotes: "Put your dates in the honey pot  but don't sink it afterwards in the mud of the Nile!", another proverb says: "Eat one date and live 3 days!", both quotes reflect the national significance and importance of dates in sustaining life for Moroccans in olden times.  One of the best Morocco facts about dates is that selling or cutting a date tree was and still is "illegal" (same fact as for Argan trees), because dates were such an important prime source of food and livelihood for all Moroccans.  There are several dates-related festivals and ceremonies, most popular one is the "Erfoud Date Festival", which takes place early on October and which last for three (3) days, depending on the harvest, and which represents a good opportunity for small private corporations or organisations to promote their products.  A date gallery, visited every year by thousands of locals, and foreign businessmen as well as tourists, where interesting dates photos are exhibited.  A  fashion parade followed the event and a special "Lady" is chosen in honour of the Crown "Miss Date"! Stories behind the great traditions and history of each nation reveals the greatness of its people!

There are so many varieties of dates, and can be classified as soft (my favourite), semi-soft and dry dates (my mother's favourite). Fresh dates or paste date freeze extremely well, so you can put them in your freezer and enjoy them whenever you suddenly have an urge for a bowl of hot Harira or use them as filling for different desserts and sweets.  In the South of the Kingdom, dates are served with cumin seeds and sesame seeds, a delicious and traditional way to serve dates in this region.

Here are South Morocco Dates, served with cumin and sesame seeds.  They're great!
Photo by Julie Klear Essakalli


The most popular dates known in Morocco are:

1-Drâa Oasis Dates
2-Zagora Dates,
3-Errachidia dates
4-Tafilelt dates
5-Imported dates: are also appreciated by Moroccans, especially, Tunisian Dates, Iraqi Dates and Jordan Dates.
Mamatkamal


Ingredients:

-1.5 soft dates (pits removed), steamed for about 15 minutes /  1.5 kg de dattes molles, dénoyautées et cuite à la vapeur pendant environ 15 minutes.

-30 ml orange water / 30 ml de l'eau de fleur d'oranger

-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon / 1 c à soupe de cannelle moulue

-Pinch of salt / Pincée de sel

-200 gr whole almonds with skin, toasted and roughly chopped / 200 gr d'amandes entières avec peau, grillées et grossièrement hachée













-Pinch of gum arabic (Maska Hora) /  Une pincée de gomme arabique (Maska 7ora)

-1 ground clove / 1 clou de girofle moulu

-3 gr of lemon powder / 3 gr de poudre de citron
N.B. (Recipe will follow how to make lemon powder / La recette suivra pour préparer la poudre de citron)

-Pinch of nutmeg / Pincée de noix muscade

-2 tablespoons Amlou / 2 c à soupe d'Amlou



Method / Prépareration:

1-The measurements are irrelevant as long as you put more dates than almonds. / Les mesures ne sont pas si importantes, tant que vous mettiez plus de dattes que les amandes.

2- Process the dates and all the ingredients in a food processor until they are the consistency of coarse sand. / Passer les dattes et les autres ingrédients au robot culinaire jusqu'à l'obtention d'une consistance de sable grossier.

3-Turn the mixture out onto a lightly oiled Kasriya or a large bowl, then knead a few minutes, to form a dough. / Transférer le mélange dans une Kasriya ou un grand bol, légèrement huilé, puis pétrir quelques minutes pour former une pâte.


4-Divide date paste into small portions, roll each portion into a sausage shape and store them in airtight containers or freeze or use immediately. / Diviser la pâte de dattes en petites portions, rouler chacune sous forme de saucisse, puis transférer dans des contenants hermétiques, ou congler ou utiliser aussitôt.
Mamatkamal


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