[Sca-cooks] Dates

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 8 20:08:18 PST 2008

Stefan li Rous posted:
>From: lilinah at earthlink.net
>Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:52:30 -0700
>To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
>Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period sweets


Notes in square brackets below were by me when i first posted this...

>Rutab mu'assal
>"Honeyed Dates" (literally)
>13th c. recipe - source not specified
>Take freshly gathered dates and lay in the shade and air for a day.
>Then remove the stones and stuff with peeled almonds. For every 10
>ratls of dates take 2 ratls of honey. Boil over the fire with two
>uqiya of rose water and half a dirham of saffron, then throw in the
>dates, stirring for an hour. Remove and allow to cool. When cold,
>sprinkle with fine-ground sugar scented with musk, camphor,and
>hyacinth. Put into glass preserving jars, sprinkling on top some of
>the scented ground sugar. Cover until the weather is cold and chafing
>dishes are brought in. [my note: might "chafing dishes" be "braziers"
>used to warm the house?]

Let me note here that "hyacinth" is an error that someone (Waines?) 
made. It should say "spikenard". I think this error may have come 
from Arberry, who i am not criticizing... he was a trailblazer - the 
first to translate an Arabic language cookbook into English, and it's 
only to be expected that there would be some errors.

I haven't yet made these with spikenard, though...

>David Waines' version:
>1 lb. fresh dates
>2 Tb. honey
>4 oz. blanched almonds
>3 Tb. rosewater
>big pinch saffron
>2 Tb. castor sugar (extra fine granulated sugar)
>2 Tb. ground cinnamon [i think that's a bit much!]
>1.) Carefully slit each date down one side and remove the pit.
>2.) Into each date place one blanched almond, then squeeze closed.
>3.) Mix together rosewater, honey, and saffron in a small saucepan.
>Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
>4.) Add dates to syrup, spooning it over the dates so each is
>thoroughly coated. Leave them in the syrup for a couple of hours.
>5.) Remove dates and roll each one in castor sugar mixed with cinnamon.
>My notes:
>I have never made this.

Well, in the time between then and now i've made these several times. 
I actually think those boring dry Deglett Noor dates are best for 
this recipe and i wouldn't waste Bahri dates or Medjool dates on this 
- they're so good they deserve to be eaten unadorned.

I say this because after simmering the almond-stuffed dates, they 
become very tender and moist. In fact, i never stir them while i'm 
making them as they would fall apart, i just shake the pan. I do use 
more honey than Waines suggests, since his quantity does not even 
approach that called for in the original recipe, just enough to cover 
the dates.

Also, when i've made this, i don't bother to coat them with the 
castor sugar at the end because my teeth hurt just looking at them, 
that is, they are sooooooo sweet already i hesitate to add more sugar.

And i've never had any complaints. People tend to gobble these down. 
There are never any leftovers.

Since camphor isn't readily available (yes, i can get some, but it 
takes some looking) and camphor is not good for one's liver, i have 
not used it in my cooking (although i suspect that such a small 
amount probably wouldn't harm people with no pre-existing liver 
problems). I made an experiment when i cooked the Ottoman Investiture 
Feast in November 2007. Since camphor gives a cooling sensation like 
menthol, and is in the cinnamon family, i mixed peppermint extract 
with powdered cinnamon and sprinkled an Ottoman sweet with it. Yes, 
it doesn't really taste like cinnamon, but still it might be worth 
the experiment here, too, although i have not yet tried it.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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