This holiday dish is a great opportunity for me to tell you all about my “Love Story” with DATES! Dates are one of my favorite fruits. I especially love eating fresh yellow dates… besides being an AMAZING fruit of great taste and high nutritious value, my family members in Israel who live near the Dead Sea, grow dates. My uncle Danny started growing dates in the 80s’ and his love for farming grew to become a family business. The family also owns a restaurant in the area called “The Last Chance”. (“The Last Chance” Facebook Page)
The restaurant’s “farm to table” style and use of local products made it natural to incorporate the dates from the family orchard into the restaurant’s menu. This made dates the key ingredient in many authentic dishes and some creative new dishes were born as well. One of them in particular “Stuffed Dates” took the first place and a golden medal as the tastiest dish in a Jerusalem annual cooking competition!
Last time we were visiting my family in Israel my children and I walked the date orchards and even though it was slightly before the harvest season, we were able to taste some amazingly sweet dates. At the end of our visit, my cousin gave me a very special gift; a bag full of Medjool dates from their orchard. Medjool dates are the BEST! They are soft and fleshy with an amazing sweet flavor. Dry dates store easily in the freezer for a very long time, and I promised to save some for David (my husband) who was back at home. When we came back home, I brought the dates with me and kept them in the freezer. I have to admit, they were so precious to me that I store them in the freezer and only used them on special occasions…
As I was gathering the ingredients to make this Tunisian Charoset I found the last two dates we brought back from my uncles’ date orchard. Of course I decided to use them for this recipe, I had to combine them with additional Medjool dates I bought at the store, but it was extra special to be able to make them part of this dish!
There are two other very special features to this awesome Tunisian Charoset: One- this Charoset traditionally is formed into bite sized balls, which makes serving and eating it so much FUN! Two- a very unique Tunisian spice mix named “Tabil” is part of this Charoset. Tabil is a Tunisian dry spice mix which includes: dry rose petals, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cumin and even turmeric. This special blend of flavors gives the Charoset one of a kind warm and sweet taste. To make your own homemade Tabil checkout Afooda’s Tabil post.
A side note:
Whenever I make this Charoset, I LOVE making extra Charoset balls to last us beyond the night of the Seder. Just check out the ingredient list- they are a super healthy, powerful energy snack that is so awesome to have around. They also store well in the refrigerator or freezer for a long time.
You will need:
[Makes about 30 bite sized balls]
15-18 Large Medjool Dates
¼ cup Walnuts
¼ cup Almonds
¼ cup Pistachios
¼ cup Hazelnuts
¼ cup Cashews
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Tabil
Let’s do this!
Today we don’t have to work hard, the food processor does all the work for us. 🙂
First combine all the nuts in the food processor and process until they are finely crumbled. Be careful not to over process the nuts so they keep their crumbly texture and do not turn into paste. The nuts should look like this.
Remove the crumbled nuts into a bowl and set aside. Let’s take care of the dates.
These beautiful Medjool dates are soft and full of sugar! Use a knife to cut a seam on the side to remove the pit easily.
Roughly chop the dates just to help the food processor a little.
Process the dates in the food processor until they are cut into very small pieces.
Now, add the crumbled nut mixture to the dates as well as the cinnamon and Tabil. Process just to combine it all evenly.
The Charoset mixture looks like this.
Time to form the Charoset into small bite sized balls. I use a small cookie dough scoop to have an even amount of Charoset each time, and I used my hands to roll the Charoset into balls.
This is so much fun! 🙂
Once all the Charoset balls are formed, place them in a sealed container or cover them. Move them to the refrigerator to firm up.
When you are ready to serve, arrange on a serving dish and enjoy…
Happy and Kosher Pesach!
Process Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Hazelnuts and Cashews until finely crumbled.
Remove the nut mixture from food processor and set aside.
Remove pits from Dates and give them a rough chop.
Process the Dates into small pieces.
Add the nut mixture back to the food processor.
Add Cinnamon and Tabil.
Process together to combine evenly.
Form small balls from the Charoset mixture.
Chill in the refrigerator for couple hours to firm up.