Date-Tamarind Relish

By creamtea
February 25, 2017
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Author Notes: 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

Makes: about 1-1/2 cups

  • 9 ounces fleshy dates, such as Medjool, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 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)
  • 4 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 scallions, including some green (about 8 inches) scallion, minced
  • 1/2 cup loosely-packed cilantro, measured, then minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  1. Combine water and dates in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Scrape mixture into a small food processor and purée until just smooth (a little texture is ok).
  4. 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.

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