About 20 years ago, my dad brought back a date tree seed after a trip to the Middle East. He lovingly planted it in a large planter in our kitchen in hopes that it would grow and blossom into a beautiful tree bearing his favourite little fruit. I was an (impatient) child then so you can imagine my reaction when my dad told me the tree would grow for years and eventually have to be moved outside and planted in the earth and then finally — some 18 years later — it would grow into a fruit-bearing plant. 20 years later and the little sucker has remained as barren as the day it was planted. The climate in North America is simply not conducive to growing dates which require a warm, dry climate. Thank heaven for imported fruit, am I right? 😉
Don’t be put off by the coarsely wrinkled appearance of dates. Dates are delicious! They’re sweet and creamy with a chewy flesh and have a subtle, but rich, nutty flavour. Allow yourself to be taken in by the allure of the aromatic date.
Dates found in North America are always imported as the date palm on which the dates grow must have full sun. Iraq is the world’s largest exporter of this sweet fruit but the use of dates in recipes transcends all cultures of the world. This date chutney (as well as Mint Coriander Chutney) is one that is used to accompany sweet and salty snacks such as Bhel Puri, Chaat Papdi, Potato Cutlets, and the ever-celebrated Samosa! This chutney is a killer dip for crispy, flavourful samosas made with a flaky pastry and filled with delicious meaty fillings! The dates in the chutney are rehydrated with water, and kept uncooked so it’s bursting with flavour and incredibly fresh! The chutney contains no oil at all and calls for unrefined brown sugar, so it’s quite healthy and can be enjoyed without guilt!
This chutney is sweet, but not cloyingly sweet, and packs a spicy punch. When you get your first taste of this, the first flavour note that greets you is earthy and sweet. The note that follows is dominated by the flavour of the cilantro and then…wham! That heat from the peppers slams your taste buds. Despite that mild assault on your senses, the final note left lingering on your tongue is sweet and satisfying.