Thursday, April 26, 2018

Last Chance Stuffed Dates with Ground Lamb

A split date stuffed with spiced ground lamb, garnished with parsley, lemon,
and toasted almonds. A creative Israeli recipe!
On our recent trip to Israel, we ate lunch one day near the Dead Sea at a restaurant called "The Last Chance." I ordered a very delicious dish which the menu called "Dates stuffed with meat, tahini, and silan." There was just a hint of tahini, and the ground meat spicing seemed vaguely North African (the restaurant's chef is of Tunisian background). Silan is honey made from dates -- in fact that's the honey that's meant in the Biblical verse about a land of "milk and honey."

When I got home, I searched and searched for a recipe for dates stuffed with meat, but found that dates are sometimes used to stuff lamb roasts; they are often stuffed with cheese or nuts; but the recipe I wanted just didn't show up in any of my cookbooks or web browsings. Finally, in a not-so-obvious page on the restaurant's website I found their actual recipe!

Stuffed date recipe from the restaurant website (link).
Making this recipe required that I do a bit of interpretation: for example, it's not clear about cooking the meat after you add it to the pan, and the spice quantities are pure guess-work. Nevertheless, I tried making the dish as best I could, and the results were satisfying. Adjustments:

  • I did not make an attempt to buy Silan, as it's hard to find. In any case, I thought it was a little too sweet for the meat dish as served in the restaurant. Using pomegranate molasses for garnish was enough sweetener.
  • Besides the spices called for in the recipe, I added a little of the Moroccan seasoning blend Ras el Hanout because I thought I had tasted some of those flavors. 
  • I used ground lamb from a local farm, but this would also work with ground beef.
Ingredients ready to prepare, cook, and assemble.
My serving platter, with the parsley, lemon, and a bit of tahini spread on the
surface as the recipe suggests, and as was done at the restaurant. Mint is
really not in season here so I sprinkled some dried mint on the tahini.
I made sure each date was set on the tahini.
Platter with the stuffed dates and recommended garnishes.


Jeanie said...

This sounds good, Mae, and I love your presentation!

Tina said...

I like the sound of this one. It’s nice to recreate recipes from a trip, thinking of the good time you had when visiting Israel. The only time I have stuffed dates was for an appetizer, stuffing a date with a basil leaf, goat cheese a d wrapping with bacon.
if you are interested here is the link below. I love hearing about your trips.

Beth F said...

Good detective work! Looks like your dish was a success.

jama said...

Nice that you eventually found the recipe. Looks yummy, though I'd substitute ground beef since I don't care for lamb.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I love trying to recreate food I loved--especially from great trips. It looks like you did a great job and it looks delicious on the plate. ;-)

Vicki said...

Looks and sounds good but I don't know if I'd lamb since I've never tried it.

Claudia said...

Oh I do want to try that recipe - it sounds so yummy, and I do love lamb. Good job on recreating.