Almost half the year has rolled by and we are have fallen into June, and further into the long and breathless days of summer. Even with the searing heat and lingering mugginess in this land of Bedouin hospitality, there is so much to love about summer.
The sun, the warmth, the fresh tang of the sea air, and the glow to the skin, makes this a truly magical season.
Somehow everything looks more beautiful in the spirit of summer. Tumbling cascades of bougainvillea swaying in the gentle breeze. Blooming frangipani scenting the air and offering welcome patches of shade. Rustling green leaves bathed in the soft light of the afternoon. Turquoise blue waters gently lapping against the soft white sand. Even the sight of the construction cranes rapidly transforming Doha bay into a skyscrapered fantasy land looks beautiful and inspiring.
And best of all when the temperatures have cooled down, and the quietness of the night has settled in, a stroll down the miles of the palm lined promenade, breathing in fresh air, watching the dhows gliding over the barely ruffled water, and delighting in the nocturnal view of the gleaming array of skyscrapers adorning one of the most beautiful bays in the Arabian Gulf, is great joy.
Yes, there is so much to love about summer.
Summer also marks the glorious bounty of the ripening season. Heavy bunches of dry fruit sagging from the date palms, one of the oldest fruit trees in the Arabian Peninsula, is a familiar sight here in the Middle East. The unripe green dates, as seen now, will soon turn into golden brown sweeties under the caress of the sweltering sun.
Before long the supermarkets will be crammed with a variety of dates—the sacred fruit of the Muslims—and many of us will end up with far more fruits than we could snack on. So lets take advantage of these high-sugar fruits to whip up something weather appropriate.
I’m an unabashed drinks person. Oh yes. And when it’s really hot outside, I love skipping a meal and grabbing a glass of deliciousness—something like this creamy, rich shake, a quick energy booster that’ll keep you satisfied until the next meal.
Date-milk-ice cream concoction is simply heavenly. With a beautifully voluptuous texture and loads of sweetness from the fruit, it is as decadent as milkshake recipes get. Seriously, just one sip and—swoon—you are on dates heaven! Wonder why this shake does not enjoy enough popularity as its other counterparts flavored with vanilla or chocolate.
Dates add a lot of character, and besides the rich flavor, you get the benefit of antioxidants, minerals and fiber from the fruit. But beware, they are high calorie density food, and the carb count of this shake must be through the roof—so drink when you are feeling skinny. Or better still when you plan to skip a meal, like I do.
Date shake, it turns out, is quintessentially South Californian food, invented by a date farmer by the name of Russ Nichol in the 1930s. Now, who would have thought? Not me! I was under the misconception that date shake is as Middle Eastern as the date palm—duh.
Coming to the recipe, when choosing dates look for the soft, chewy and sweet kind. To make a smooth drink, soften the dates by microwaving it for a few seconds. Feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your taste, or dietary needs.
Now, don’t you want a sip? You'll not be disappointed!
Makes 2 glasses
Prep: 5 min
½ cup thickly packed fresh dated, pitted
1 cup chilled milk (I usually use skimmed)
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1 teaspoon chocolate syrup (optional)
Ice cream melt and chocolate syrup
Soften dates by popping it in the microwave on high for 10 seconds.
Pour the milk into a blender, add dates, and process to a smooth puree. Then add ice cream and chocolate syrup, if using; blend again.
Pour into your favorite glasses, garnish with melted ice cream and chocolate syrup, and savor every sip. Yummy!