I wanted to try my hand at making silan, the sweet date syrup frequently used in the Middle East. But I wanted silan with a plot twist. I had once brought dried sour plums from a Middle Eastern grocery in Los Angeles and gave them to a Georgian friend back in New York. Her mother turned them into Tekemali (sour plum condiment) with the addition of cilantro and scallions. I jealously guarded my little jar, sneaking a spoonful now and then. Here, dates marry tamarinds (tamar-i-hind after translates as "date of India") for a kind of tart-sweet-savory condiment. —creamtea
about 1-1/2 cups
fleshy dates, such as Medjool, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 to 1
Fresno or other fresh hot red or green chili, seeded and minced (Fresno chilis are fairly mild, so substitute according to taste and heat-tolerance)
scallions, including some green (about 8 inches) scallion, minced
loosely-packed cilantro, measured, then minced
Combine water and dates in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring to a boil, turn heat to low; add salt, tamarind paste, chili, and shallots and simmer 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, or until dates are soft and mixture is thickened. Add scallion and cilantro and simmer 2-3 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Scrape mixture into a small food processor and purée until just smooth (a little texture is ok).
When cool, spoon into a storage container and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Use as a spread on toast or crackers, in a sandwich with cream cheese, on a cheese tray, dolloped on plain yogurt, as a condiment for poultry or as a glaze for chicken parts or wings.