Ah, at last I'm posting something for AFAM!
Growing up, dates were those rather boring, plastic, chewy fruits that came with several wrinkles - you'd find just the one in a packet of dry prasadam (food that has been blessed) sold at temples but now they are available in various forms and consistencies here in India - fruit, most often dried - full, sliced, pressed and sticky, embedded with almonds, cashews, pistachios and other nuts, as syrup, but once in a while, at certain shops, fresh too.
I recently came across some really shiny and soft dates, so sweet that I find it rather difficult to believe there is no added sugar in them - there is no ingredients list on the packet so I have to buy it in good faith and hope, but the positive side to that is that they worked well with this Qatayef recipe I found on the Internet. My adaptation of this recipe is below.
This recipe goes to the event A Fruit A Month started by Maheswari of Beyond The Usual, hosted this month by Chandrika of Akshayapatra.
For the pancakes:
¾ tsp dry yeast
¼ tsp sugar
¾ cup warm water
½ cup all-purpose flour/maida
¼ cup semolina/rava
A pinch of salt
Butter for frying
For the filling:
Lightly toasted walnuts: ½ cup
Sticky dry dates, chopped: 1-1/2 cups
Ground cinnamon: ½ tsp
Honey: to drizzle, a few tsps
Combine yeast, sugar and ¼ cup of the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until you notice some action – bubbles forming.
Meanwhile, in a large enough bowl, mix flour, semolina and salt. Gradually add the remaining water to the dry ingredients using a hand mixer. (I just scrubbed my hands raw and mixed it with my hands.)
When the batter begins to resemble thickened milk (or white sauce, in my case), add yeast mixture and mix well. Cover and set aside for three hours.
After three hours, when you’re ready to make the pancakes, place pan on stove, heat 1 tbsp butter and pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the pan.
Cook until the entire surface of the pancake is covered with bubbles. This, along with the top of the pancake losing the gloss/wetness, is your signal that the pancake is ready. It should remain pale on the top.
Do not flip and cook on the other side.
Repeat with the remaining batter. Add a little more butter if you need to. (I got four pancakes of fairly similar sizes from this recipe.)
Keep aside. If you’re stacking, keep some waxed paper in between the pancakes to ensure they don’t stick to each other.
For the filling, combine the dates with the walnuts and ground cinnamon.
Place one tbsp of the filling in the centre of the pancake, unfried side up. Fold pancake in half to form a crescent. I used cloves to hold it together as pinching the edges did not help seal them.
Place filled pancakes in a plate.
Just before serving, in a skillet, heat ¼-inch of vegetable oil over medium high heat. When the oil’s very hot, fry as many pancakes as will fit easily. Fry for a minute or two till brown. Flip and brown the other side. Drizzle a teaspoon of honey over each pancake.
Here are some interesting things I found on Wikipedia about dates.
Dates can also be dehydrated, ground and mixed with grain to form a nutritious stockfeed.
Dried dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara.
In northern Nigeria, dates and peppers added to the native beer are believed to make it less intoxicating.
Young date leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, as is the terminal bud or heart, though its removal kills the palm.
The finely ground seeds are mixed with flour to make bread in times of scarcity.
The flowers of the date palm are also edible.
Traditionally the female flowers are the most available for sale and weigh 300-400 grams. The flower buds are used in salad or ground with dried fish to make a condiment for bread.
Here's a solo, with a ball of the date-walnut mixture:
Don't forget about Grindless Gravies. Read more about the event here. Please remember that for this event, daal/lentil preparations won't count as gravies because that will make things too easy! Same goes for yoghurt-based kadhis - this is getting tiresome (for you all), I know, I know!
AFAM-Dates Qatayef Dates Maida/All purpose flour Walnuts Semolina/Rava Yeast Honey Vegetarian