Muslims all over the world are embarking on another blessed month of fasting (Ramadan) from food and drink (pre-dawn to sunset) in order to re-focus on what is spiritually important in their lives. Although they’ll be breaking the fast in different ways around the world, according to their own particular and culturally desirable tastebuds, one food that will probably make it to every Muslim’s table is the date of some variety (i.e. Medjool, Deglet Noor, etc.).
The reason Muslims will do this is to follow the tradition of the way Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) broke his fast nearly 1400 years ago, with dates. There are many varieties of dates: Medjool, Deglet Noor, Halawy, just to name a few. My personal favorite is the Medjool date because it is soft and thick and doesn’t taste too sweet. I also love them because they can be stuffed with crunchy things like almonds, hazelnuts or any kind of nut you prefer, adding texture and flavor to an already-delicious gift of food.
If you’re having guests over for Iftar, or would just like to make a pretty presentation of your dates, you might want to try my recipe for Dates with Cream. I use a recipe for homemade crème fraiche to dollup on top, but you can use store-bought fresh creme fraiche or another type of all natural cream, if that’s what you have.
Serves 3 (if you are serving one date per person, otherwise double or triple this recipe)
- 3 large Medjool dates
- 9 whole roasted almonds
- 3 tablespoons or dollups of creme fraiche
- lemon or orange zest
- several pistachios, roughly chopped
- Wash and dry the dates. Make a clean cut to open the date and remove any pits.
- Stuff each date with 3 whole almonds and close them.
- On a plate or platter, arrange the dates in a row. Dollup the creme fraiche on top of each one. Finish with lemon or orange zest and chopped pistachios.
Serve at room temperature with small forks for those who prefer it.
When breaking the fast it is sunnah (a tradition of Prophet Muhammad) to say, “Allahumma laka sumtu wa ‘ala ridhqika aftartu” (O Allah! For You did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the fast).
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