5 date recipes to sweeten your Ramadan

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Ramadan is a festive month of spiritual healing, togetherness and faith.

This Ramadan, Instagrammer Ayesha Erkin has decided to take traditional dates and mix things up.

Ayesha Erkin is a 29-year-old trained architect and absolute food lover. In 2020, she decided to launch her Date of the Day series, focusing on the nutritious fruit and pairing it with a range of unique flavors.

During the first US lockdown, Erkin decided to return to her family’s home in Texas. “Everyone’s mood was low as Ramadan is such a community-focused month, the pandemic took that away from us,” she tells The Independent. This was the first Ramadan in lockdown and as it is a community driven month the pandemic has changed things for many Muslims around the world. Limiting gatherings, iftar celebrations and prayers at local mosques.

Erkin’s idea for the series came about when she came across an Islamic reading about how the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) would combine dates and cucumbers. This inspired her to mix different foods with dates, “For me, experimenting with foods is like meditation, it centers me,” she says.

Ramadan is about bringing family and friends together, “what I loved about this series is that my family always looks forward to iftar and opening our fast together. We’re often caught up in our busy lifestyles, so it felt good to be still for a moment,” says Erkin.

Dates have many health benefits. For starters, dates are high in fiber, minerals and sugars, this is a good energy booster after a long day of fasting. They’re also easily digested, so eating dates after a long day can help your body’s glucose levels return to normal.

Erkin’s unique date combinations have hit a nerve on social media with recipes you’ll want to try.

Here are Erkin’s top dates recipes to sweeten your Ramadan:

Mango Lassi Brulee

(ayesha erkin)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ripe (or frozen) mango or ½ cup mango pulp.
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or water as needed
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1- 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin or agar agar (any unflavored thickener will work)
  • 2-3 strands of saffron (or ½ tsp saffron powder)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds (or 2-3 cardamom pods)
  • Dried rose or ½ tsp rose water
  • cane sugar for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Take a small saucepan and boil water with the saffron, cardamom, rose and sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped mango (or the pulp + frozen pieces) in a blender with the yogurt. You want the consistency to be on the thicker side as opposed to a regular drinkable lassi, so just add the milk or water as needed, but we’ll add the gelatin and water mixture.
  3. When the water boils, add the gelatin and stir.
  4. Add to blender with lassi and puree.
  5. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until set, about 1 to 2 hours. You can also pop in the freezer for 15-20 minutes if you’re in a pinch, but the center may not set fully.
  6. Take the mango lassi pudding and place it in a piping bag – if you don’t have one, place in a ziplock and snip off one of the corners for a quick homemade piping bag!
  7. Remove the pits from your dates.
  8. Press the mango lassi pudding into the dates. The texture should hold up easily on its own.
  9. Sprinkle the dates with sugar; Castor works well for a deeper flavor. Using a kitchen torch, light the tops of the dates to create a crispy crème brûlée layer. The sugar is crucial for this, or you’ll just burn the pudding and the date! If you don’t have a flashlight, you can grill it in the oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the top is browned. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
  10. Place saffron threads on top to decorate (optional)

Caramelized honey onions with mascarpone

Caramelized honey onions with mascarpone

(ayesha erkin)

Ingredients:

  • 7 -10 Medjool dates
  • Mascarpone spread (or any type of spread that isn’t too sweet)
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp honey (Use a light and a dark honey for contrast!)
  • water (as needed)

Method:

1. Finely chop the onions

2. Heat pan to medium heat and add ghee.

3. Immediately add half a tablespoon of honey to the ghee.

4. Add the onions and reduce the heat. Don’t fry the onions! You want them to cook slowly so they caramelize.

5. When they seem to be getting crispy, pour some water over the onions. This will help soften them!

6. When lightly brown and soft, add the other half of the honey.

7. When a jam-like consistency is reached, remove from heat. Taste (if you can) and adjust the sweetness accordingly.

8. Set aside to cool and while the onions cool, slice and pit the dates.

9. After pitting, spread half of the inside of the date with mascarpone.

10. Scoop up some onions and stuff in the other half.

11. Serve immediately and enjoy! This will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days.

Donut Dates

(ayesha erkin)

Ingredients:

  • 7-10 Medjool dates (this recipe can work with any type of dates)
  • A sweet, soft bread. You can use milk bread, brioche, Hawaiian rolls, or even croissants.
  • 1/2 cup (64g) powdered sugar, plus more to thicken frosting as needed
  • 1 tbsp milk (15ml), plus more as needed to thin the glaze
  • 1/2 tsp (2ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp (2ml) lemon juice
  • Streusel for decoration (highly recommended)

Method:

1. Pit your dates.

2. Place powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and lemon in a bowl and beat until medium consistency with glossy glaze. To correct if it’s too thick or too runny, add more milk or sugar accordingly.

3. Take your bread and tear off a piece of it. Squeeze it with your hands until it feels fairly tight. Fill it in the date and add more as needed, but don’t overfill it as you want to make sure the opening of the date can be closed! This is because if you dip it in the glaze and too much gets into the bread, it becomes too sweet and the texture decreases.

4. Place the dipped dates on some parchment paper and decorate with sprinkles just before the glaze dries.

5. Allow the icing to dry at room temperature (about 1 hour) or refrigerate to speed up the process.

6. Enjoy with a coffee!

Sujuk Date Wellington

(ayesha erkin)

Ingredients:

  • 7 -10 Medjool dates
  • Sujuk (Turkish beef sausage or you can use summer sausage. Sujuk is just way more oily when cooked so it has a nice fragrant taste)
  • 2 puff pastry (puff pastry)
  • Cheese/Smoked Cheddar
  • 1 egg
  • all herbs; Parsley and dill work great!

Method:

1. Pit the dates and preheat the oven to 190 C

2. Cut the sujuk into a size that fits the date.

3. Slice the cheese to match Medjool size. Don’t add too much as it will melt outside of the pastry case!

4. Chop the herbs

5. Whisk the egg and set aside

6. Take the phyllo squares and roll them to half the thickness. This is crucial as you don’t want too much pastry to wrap up the date as it expands.

7. Fill the date with sujuk, herbs and cheese

8. Wrap the date in the dough. Use the egg wash to help the edges stick, then pinch the ends together.

9. Brush the dates wrapped in the dough with the egg milk

10. Cut open the top of the dough and create 3 small cutting marks

11. Place in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Lotus coffee crunch

(ayesha erkin)

Ingredients:

  • 7 -10 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp instant coffee in an espresso cup
  • 2 oz (approx. 50-60 g) boiled water for the instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone or any type of slightly sweet cream
  • Lotus spread
  • Crunchy muesli (approx. 1/4 cup / 32 g)

Method:

1. Boil water and make your coffee. You can brew Turkish/Arabic coffee either Instant or Slow Drip.

2. While the coffee is cooling to room temperature, pit the dates.

3. Fill the dates with lotus spread.

4. Scoop the mascarpone into a bowl and pour in the cooled coffee.

5. Beat until there are no lumps and the color is golden. Feel free to add additional flavorings like cardamom powder or syrup if you’d like!

6. Dip your dates in the coffee cream.

7. Place on wax or parchment paper and sprinkle with the granola.

8. Melt about a tablespoon of lotus spread in the microwave. Use it to decorate the top of the dates

9. Place the dates in the fridge for at least an hour to set.

10. These should keep for a few days but make sure you refrigerate and enjoy!

Check out Erkin’s Instagram page for more recipes for dates.

Happy dating and Ramadan Mubarak!

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