October 24, 2012

Luxury Dates with Nuts and Chocolate — Eid Mubarak!

Another October week, and I’m still a little slow with the updates, I know.

Lack of time is to blame. I just got back from a totally unscheduled and last minute trip to India. It’s been ten straight days of rushing around, rest and relaxation, and much, much beauty. Lilac sunsets and idyllic twilights, rolling thunderstorm and romance of raindrops, blustery beaches and moody ocean waves, and most of all, movie nights with friends and family, and the most wonderfully lazy mornings over many cups of mom’s tea and delicious home cooked meals.
I’m glad I could head out of Doha so soon and fly to the countryside, if only for a short time — there was just something so tranquil and beautiful about this trip. And all the while I’ve been framing memories and moments with my iPhone 4 camera, and had the most loveliest time connecting and sharing them on instagram.



*all photos taken on my iPhone 4
So I’m back to work after (shamefully) abandoning the blog for another couple of days.

Back in time for Eid.  Eid-al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.

Eid-al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Islamic month, Dhu al-Hajjah, concluding the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. This year, it’s on Firday, October 26.  

Eid in the Middle East is almost like Christmas in the West. I simply love being in Qatar to enjoy the fiesta.
The simple joy of thanksgiving and merriment, gathering with family and friends, exchange of greetings and gifts, menu planning and shopping, and the oh-so-beautiful excitement of new dresses and intricate henna tattoos begin on the night before, if not earlier. Come morning, Muslims all around the world wake up in the wee hours, take a shower, get dressed in new clothes, and rush to attend the pre-dawn (fajr) communal prayers followed by the Salat al Eid or Eid prayers at the Eidgah. Greetings and hugs are exchanged, and then comes time to lay the table for a festive, memorable lunch with family and friends.

Following Indian traditions, biryani is the order of the day. The rich, enchanting fragrance of spices simmering away with the rice, meat and herbs is one of the many delights of Eid celebration. As a little girl, I used to look forward to Eid with sweet innocence for two things. Biryani and new dress. Not necessarily in that order.
Meandering back to the topic, it is sunnah to eat something sweet, like dates, for breakfast before proceeding for Eid prayers. So is it customary to gift boxes of sweets or special dishes to close friends and relatives. Talking of which, I have the prefect last-minute treat that’s ideal for gifts or after-meal treats.

Sweet, fresh dates stuffed with whole almonds, drizzled with date syrup, and sprinkled with ground cardamom-pistachio. And then if you are a chocolate lover, cover them to perfection in a creamy blanket of rich chocolate. Simply decadent, ah. 

Making stuffed dates at home is so ridiculously fun and easy. It takes about 10 minutes, start-to-finish, giving you plenty of time to focus on preparing the main meal before the guest arrives. What’s more, gifting a box of homemade sweets not only saves money, it speaks volume in the language of love.
You know, it’s a Middle Eastern tradition to gift boxes of dates to your loved ones. Dates have a tremendous religious significance and so it is incredibly popular in this culture. Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) used to break fast with dates. Scientifically, eating a date or two to break fast restores blood sugar—low blood sugar is a reason for hunger—and prevents overeating. So dates (used in moderation, of course) are the perfect treat to curb your sugar cravings while staying healthy. What’s more, it’s a wonderful ingredient to play around with.
Select firm, chewy dates, and use high quality chocolate for dipping. The beauty of this recipe is that you can tweak it with your favorite nuts or dried fruit filling. The same goes for chocolatedip away in luxuriously rich, white, milk or dark flavors.

So time to bring out your passion and creativity — Eid Mubarak, my friends!

{ps: these days my whims have slightly shifted to recipe card designing, and I love flexing my muscles in this area—I hope you like it.}
Luxury Dates with Nuts and Chocolate

Ingredients
Makes 12
Prep: 10 minutes, plus setting time

12 large dates, rinsed, dried and pitted (I used medjool dates)
12 whole almonds, or more as needed
1 tablespoon shelled pistachio and 2 green cardamom pods, finely ground together
Date syrup, to taste
100g chocolate, broken into chunks
Directions

Slit each date lengthwise, without cutting through. Remove and discard the pit. Stuff an almond or two (depending on size) into each date, resting lengthwise, and press to enclose. Arrange on a serving platter and enjoy with a drizzle of date syrup, and sprinkle of ground pistachio-cardamom mixture.

For a festive touch, dip the dates in chocolate. Melt chocolate chunks in a small, clean microwave safe bowl (about 1-2 minutes). Stir until smooth. Dip almond stuffed dates in chocolate, shake off excess, and set on waxed paper. If you are going gourmet, now is the time to be creative with decorations. With a steady hand, pipe neat designs on top — spoon melted chocolate into a piping bag with a small tip, or use a plastic sandwich bag and snip off a small corner of the bag. Allow to harden in a cool, dry area. For quick setting, chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until ready to serve. Note that due to dramatic drop in temperature, chocolate set in the fridge tends to mottle at room temperature).

Wrap in pretty box, and gift someone you love.

Or, finish off your holiday party with a platter of dates and coffee by the side. Dessert can’t be any easier. Didn’t I tell you it’s super-speedy, can also be made ahead, and looks gourmet?
Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Eid and happy, happy holidays! 

Stay happy and safe wherever you are, 

29 comments:

  1. Happy Eid to you and family:-) Cant take eye off the chocolate covered dates:-)

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    1. Thanks so much Ramya! Happy holidays to you too!

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  2. Hey Nash , the pics look wonderful , eid Mubarak to you too :)

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    1. Eid Mubark to you too gorgeous! ♥

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  3. the other day some colleagues at work gave be Bateel dates, all covered with chocolates and now I am enthralled to see these homemade beauties! So gourmet looking, I am so gonna visit you for Eid if you serve me platter of those dates!

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    1. Oh yes, please do!! I'd so love to get-together with you sweet doc -- just catch a flight and anything you want is yours!

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  4. I am in love with Dates again ... And those pictures of India on this page, mesmerising effect !!

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    1. Aww, so sweet of you Nupur!

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  5. Happy Eid Wishes, fantastic and definitely luxury dates as you said, beautifully done.

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    1. Thanks much Priya, happy holidays to you too!

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  6. Wow pics are awesome,beautifully made,love it

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  7. Wishing you a happy Eid!! These dates look so tempting. My mom-in-law is a big date fan and always serves stuffed dates.
    Your chocolate covered dates look fab!!

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    1. Thanks Shema! Date is my go to snack when the hunger pangs hit, or when I'm craving something sweet :)

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  8. Happ Eid to you and family...Chocolate covered dates look awesome. Love the recipe cards and clicks....

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    1. Thanks much Reshmi, happy holidays to you too my friend!

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  9. I am visiting your blog afar a long time as for some strange reason i could not visit any 'blogspot' blogs all these days!
    I am glad I can visit some of my favorite blogs again :)
    Such a gorgeous creation. Lovely idea of dipping dates in chocolate. I have made are date truffles and I know how wonderful the combination of date sand chocolates is.

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  10. gorgeous creations. so easy but looks luxurious.

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  11. My husband loves date and I will try these with white chocolate. I think he will LOVE it!

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  12. My goodness those skies are amazing, just stunning!

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  13. What a delightful post this was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The photographs were very beautiful. You made the dates look so appealing, so beautiful with the chocolate covering. And I learned about your religious feast.
    Thank You.

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  14. Nash.... I wish I lived near u :(

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  15. Belated Eid Mubarak Nash....was out of town for a while.... just catching up and getting back into rhythm....love the look of those dates....they have like totally been transformed into absolute sophistication :-) u need to think about starting a patisserie!! and of course the styling is mind-blowing!!

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  16. Belated Eid Mubarak my friend -- that's a very tasty morsels of dates!!

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  17. thank you for linking this to the ramadhan party, darling..I think I need to revisit all your recipe archives for inspiration this month :D

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  18. AnonymousJuly 15, 2014

    Dear Nashira, Have sent you an urgent mail. Please could you advise. Your blog is simply mind blowing!!! Regards Mina

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A million thank you's for stopping by, taking the time to connect, and coming back to visit again. I genuinely appreciate each of your kind thoughts, lovely words, love and support. Happy, happy to hear from you, and hope to see you again!

♥ Nashi