November 11, 2005

The date palm (weekend herb)

So soon here comes another weekend! It is time for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn. I have chosen an incredible herb “the date palm” as my pick for this week.

A medicinal herb may be a shrub or other woody plant, whereas a culinary herb is a non-woody plant. By contrast, spices are the seeds, berries, bark, or root, or other parts of the plant, even leaves in some cases; although any of these, as well as any edible fruits or vegetables, may be considered "herbs" in medicinal or spiritual use.

The date palm is extensively cultivated for its edible fruit known as dates. Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be seeded and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, and marzipan. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes: from tajines in Morocco to puddings, bread, cakes and other dessert items. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste, spread, date syrup or "honey", powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol.

Dates have a high tannin content and are used medicinally as a detersive and astringent in intestinal troubles. As an infusion, decoction, syrup or paste, is administered for sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and number of other complaints. One traditional belief is that it can counteract alcohol intoxication. More detailed information about the date palm is here.

A 100 gram portion of fresh dates is a premium source of vitamin C and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. When dried, 100 grams of dates provides 3 grams of dietary fibre and supplies 270 kcal (1130 kJ) of energy.

Please find below a few pictures of the date palm, the dates, and followed by one of our all-time favorite Dates Kheer (pudding) recipe details. Enjoy!

This is my 4-year-old taste-tester, my son Adarsh, whom I had mentioned to you some time before, posing with his freshly plucked dates.

Dates kheer (pudding) recipe

Bringing ingredients together...

Dates – 15
Green gram dal – ½ cup
Milk – 1-1/2 cup
Honey – 3 tablespoons
Raisins – 15
Almonds or cashewnuts – 10-15, cut into half length-wise
Butter – 2 tablespoons

Method: Grind dates with one cup of water to make a smooth paste and keep aside. Cook and mash the green gram dal well. Heat a thick-bottomed vessel and pour in the butter. Fry the cashew and raisin separately and keep aside. Add the ground date and mashed dal in the remaining butter and cook till all liquid is evaporated. Add honey and cook for a minute. Add milk slowly stirring continously. Cook on low heat till thickened. Garnish the kheer with fried almonds and raisin. Serve hot or chilled. In either ways, it is yummy.

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Blogger Atabela said...

OK, first, your son is beautiful! What a darling little taste tester you have there.

On to dates...

I discovered dates while driving to Mexico in Dateland, AZ ( They have a special Date shake that is just incredible. Ever since that moment, I've been collecting Date recipes and one of these days will order a bundle of these delicious edibles for my enjoyment.

As usual, awesome post! Hope you have an enjoyable weekend :).

Blogger Kalyn said...

Your son is adorable. What an interesting post. I don't think I have ever seen a date palm. I've been to Greece and also Morocco where I am guessing they might grow, but I don't remember seeing them. I learned a lot.

Blogger vkn said...

Jenn - thanks for your amiable compliments. Thanks for dateland's url, have plenty of info on dates. I couldnt find the date shake recipe there. It must be heavenly, I can guess.

Thanks once again. You too have a great weekend, take good care of you.

Blogger vkn said...

Thanks Kalyn. Please do check out in your nearby grocery; they shud have these in all different forms like fresh/dried ones, cubes, syrup, spread, or powders. They are so delicious in all forms.

Anonymous Indira said...

Aha.. Finaly the famous tastetester of My Dhaba is revealed. Adarsh looks so cute, VKN.

Vijay devours dates. They are his favorite snack.They are available year round here in US, but during this festival season, special, costly varieties like 'Mejudos' make an appearance.
Because they are a bit pricey, most of the time, we eat them as they are. Very rarely, I make a cake with date&walnuts. That's all the cooking I do with dates.
Thanks for the recipe and beautiful dates photo.

Blogger vkn said...

You are welcome Indira. Thanks for your good words. Since your H Vijay likes dates, any plans to surprise him with dates payasam :-) When is his birthday?

Blogger Mika said...

VKN- Adarsh is a cutie! I love dates and thanks for the great recipe. I bought fresh dates like what Adarsh has from New Jersey. But they tasted bitter. I did not know how to eat them, how to tell ripeness and sogginess etc. Any tips on how to eat and buy fresh dates?

Blogger LERA said...

Hi Vkn, It's an Awesome picture of your son----he is a real cute taste tester with an expression to match, am sure he is going to become a fine connoisseur of food especially when he has a father like you !!

I am sure for me a trip to market is on the priority list for today. Thanks for a detailed info about the dates --Great pictures!

To all of you foodies: This recipe is highly recommended! A rich coloured ,power packed delicious kheer.

Blogger rokh said...

a new way with dates for me. interesting. i would certainly get those abundant dates in my mall and try it out

Blogger vkn said...

Hi Mika:

You are most welcome.

The semi-ripe dates, that is freshly plucked ones, taste a little bitter when eaten raw. It tastes good when boiled with milk. Only the ripe ones are eaten raw, tastes good.

The dates commonly available in stores are fresh or partially dried. By fresh, I mean the riped ones. Both fresh and dried dates should be smooth skinned, glossy, and plump; they should not be broken, cracked, dry, or shriveled; may be slightly wrinkled. Also, avoid those that smell sour. Hope this info helps.

Blogger vkn said...

Thank you so much Lera for those nice and kind words. Adarsh waves his hands to you :-). He started learning to type, now doing his ASDFs in my laptop. Hopefully he may start blogging from his first standard, i.e. next year, now in KG-II :-)

Blogger vkn said...

Rokh - Thanks. Wow.. please just buzz and let me know how it turned out at your home. Remember, they are intensely sweet, so a little goes a long way :-)

Anonymous Lera said...

so, sweet of him to wave out to me-- convey my regards to Adarsh .

happy weekend to you & your family.

Blogger shammi said...

What fabulous photos! Your son looks so cute :) I've never seen a date palm and didnt know till now that they grew in huge clusters like that! And I've only eaten dried dates before, never the fruit itself.

Blogger vkn said...

Thanks Shammi. Glad to know that you liked it.

Blogger Shakthi said...

Adarsh means ideal...Beautiful and unique as usual. I just love reading your posts. The recipe made me remember a date chutney I tried out some time back. Do you happen to know any recipe for that?? In Kwait, the dates were as juicy and sweet as the ones in your picture seem to be.

Anonymous Sunitha said...

Amazing dish... i tried this recipe and came out very good.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi VKN, Dates Kheer sounds interesting and also looks yummy. Did you ever try making the semi ripe dates pickle. Can someone give me the recipe.

Blogger Thought said...

can somebody mail me on how the sugary coated dates are prepared.


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