It has been forever and a day!
but everything that has been happening in Palestine, left me feeling helpless. For a long time, I couldn’t find the words or the will to write a post or take pictures.
I am truly sorry for my absence.
I do miss blogging and the interaction with all of you dearly and would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your messages, emails and patience.
In the spirit of getting back into it, I am sharing a festive traditional Arabic recipe because Eid Al Adha is just around the corner and some of my wonderful readers have reached out to me asking for a ‘no bake’ recipe that is quick and easy yet elegant and festive.
Dates in Arabic desserts
Dates play a central role in traditional Arabic desserts, especially those associated with festive occasions like Ramadan, Eid and Easter. From date maamoul and makroota that are popular throughout the levant to today’s dessert that goes by different names in different areas of the Arabian peninsula.
In Iraq, it is called madkooka (Which means something that is pounded because dates were pounded into a paste in a pestle and mortar ). In the UAE and Bahrain, it is called batheeth and tamrieh (which literally translates into ‘that which is made out of dates’).
What is Batheeth or madkooka?
Batheeth and makooka are traditional desserts/ sweet snacks. They are prepared in the form of a crumble, balls or shaped to resemble cookies and maamoul using moulds . They are usually served alongside coffee for a quick afternoon pick me up. In their simplest form, these desserts feature dates ( date paste or simply pitted dates) that are kneaded with infused butter or ghee and toasted whole wheat flour or roughly ground roasted sesame seeds. The date mix is optionally infused with spices, nuts or tahini to add layers of texture, aroma, colour and flavour.
Why do these recipes use toasted flour/ seeds?
Whole wheat flour and sesame seeds are nutty by nature but toasting them makes that nuttiness even more pronounced and adds an endearing aroma.
Why do they use infused butter or ghee?
Infusing the butter with cardamom allows its unique smokiness that permeates the entire mix.
Can I use a vegan option to replace the butter or ghee?
Definitely 🙂 coconut oil works really well here.
Now let’s dive into the recipe, I do hope that you’ll enjoy this one
Batheeth and madkooka no bake date Maamoul
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 to 8 cardamom pods crushed
0.5 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch saffron soaked in 1 tablespoon rose water (optional)
700 g date paste or pitted soft dates
1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)
1. Place the flour in a heavy bottom pot . Place over medium heat, stir continuously till the flour is golden and smells nutty (this takes around 10 minutes). Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
2. In another pot placed over medium low heat, add the butter and the crushed cardamom pods (if using) . simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the butter with the cardamom flavour.
3. Remove the cardamom pods. Add the date paste,flour and spices to the melted butter, return to the heat, kneading with the back of a wooden spoon gently for 2-3 minutes to soften the dates and get a homogenous mix.
4. Take the mix off the heat, add the saffron rosewater mix and the nuts if using. Knead with your spoon till the mix is homogenous or wait till the mix is cool enough to handle and knead by hand
5. Shaping the batheeth:
option number 1: You can shape the batheeth into balls by taking 1 tablespoon of the mix and rolling it between the palms of your hands. Once formed into balls, you can serve them as is or you can roll them in crushed nuts, dessicated coconut, crushed cookies, or dried rose petals.
Option 2: using mammoul moulds to shape the batheeth. After rolling the batheeth into small balls, press them into the mammoul mould. Line your maamoul mould with cling film, this will make getting the shaped batheeth out of the mould easier.
Store in an airtight container. These will last for 2 to three weeks.
I personally enjoy storing some in the fridge. The cold transforms the texture so, you might enjoy trying a few cold.
If you use nuts and live in a hot climate, storing them in the fridge preserves the flavours for a longer time.