Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely


Dates for sale in Mumbai
The date palm is native to the Middle East. The Arabs brought the date palm to India. They also brought the date palm across North Africa and into Spain. The Spaniards introduced the date palm to America when they invaded the native people of California in the 18th century and they also planted date palms in what is now Northern Mexico and Baja California by the 1830's.

Tamarind Chutney is great drizzled in Chana Masala (curried chickpea stew) with wilted Bloomsdale spinach from Knoll Farms. Tamarind is so strong that it is not the main ingredient in tamarind chutney. Dates are! They provide the sweetness along with jaggery, an unrefined sugar found in Indian markets. Jaggery's Latino primo, piloncillo, can be used as a substitute, or even the Asian auntie, palm sugar.

Tamarind Chutney
1/3 C Tamarind, seeds and "stringy veins" removed
1/2 C Pitted organic medjool dates
1 C Water
2 T Jaggery or Palm Sugar or Piloncillo
1 1/2 t Cumin seeds, toasted, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1/2 lime
salt to taste
pinch chile powder
-Rough chop the tamarind and dates and simmer in the water with jaggery for 5 minutes. Strain into saucepan, add cumin and lime zest and reduce to a nice thick consistancy over low heat. Add lime juice, salt and chile powder and chill to room temp.

If you want to go the Spanish route, just slice open some plump juicy dates and fill them with pieces of Jamon Serrano and a nice Spanish cheese like Mahon, Iberico, or Manchego, then lightly drizzle with extra virgen olive oil before enjoying with a glass of Jerez.
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