Indian Cooking with Dates (Khajur): Things to Know

Dates, also called khejur (in Bengali) and khajur (in Hindi), is a one-seed fruit collected from date palm trees.

Usually oblong in shape, date comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and even consistencies, depending on climate and culture.

This fruit is consumed in both forms – dried and flesh. Date is loaded with nutrition and so, good for your health.

Many Indians think dates use is limited to only chutney and sweets but this fruit is a part of many traditional and innovative dishes.

In the next section, we will take a look at how date is used in Indian cuisines.

What is Khajur (Dates)?

Indian Cooking with Dates (Khajur)

“Khajur” is the Hindi and Urdu word for “date,” which is a type of sweet fruit that comes from the date palm tree.

Dates are commonly eaten as a snack and are used in many desserts and dishes around the world, particularly in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine.

They are rich in natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthy and nutritious food.

Uses of Dates Indian Cuisines

Dates are delicious on their own. For an extra special twist and taste, stuff them with chopped almonds, pistachios or cashew nuts. The aesthetic flavor of dates and crunchiness of nuts are a delight to relish.

Date is a fleshy fruit. Its flesh tastes sweet as it contains a lot of sugar. Hence, dates are perfect for your sweet craving anytime. Moreover, it is good for your health and does not cause blood sugar to rise.

Let us start with our very own condiment – khejurer chutney. In Bengal, it is served in the last course of every auspicious occasion. Chutney is the quintessential part of almost all kinds of chats.

Date chutney is a sweet-sour dip prepared with chopped or slivered dates, jaggery, dry ginger powder, garam masala, dry red chilies and loads of dry fruits. Sometimes, pureed dates are also used for preparing chutney.

Dry red chilies, dry ginger and garam masala lend the dish a savory, spicy touch which finely balances sweetness of dates and sourness of mango powder.

You can serve it with dry kachori, samosas and even dahi yada. The chutney, as a sidekick, will make many snacks yummier.

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There is another kind of date chutney. The khajur-imli gathbandhan (date-tamarind coalition) is very popular among Indians. It works well with many fried snacks.

You can use dates to make a very delicious milkshake by combining the chilly milk and vanilla ice-cream with dates or date syrup.

This comforting drink will bless your palate. Every drop of date and apple smoothie will promise you a soothing feel.

Have you ever tried oats kheer? Try this innovative dish with dates so that you won’t have to add any sugar. It tastes great with loads of goodness from both oats and dates.

Most Indians are not familiar with Kharak ka halwa. This delicious desert is prepared with dried dates and milk. Plenty of dried fruits on the top give you lovely bites with every spoonful of halwa.

Dates, either slivered or chopped, can be used as topping on vegetable and rice dishes. It will add color and sweetness.

Date and rice pilaf is an amazing combination of rice and lots of nuts and dry fruits blessed with aroma of rose water and garnished with coriander leaves and fried onions.

Crunchiness of dates works perfectly with fruit compote that can be used in sandwiches, salads and desserts. For those with a lingering crave for novelty, carrots and date salad offer a lovely blessing of sweet and tangy taste.

Dates tossed with carrot and apple slices lend an extra crunch to the salad. The dish is blessed with a crazy and breezy flavor, thanks to this unusual combination. You can use the combo to prepare delectable sandwiches.

It is wise to carry a ready-to-eat snack in your bag. Date and nut slices infuse both sweetness and crunchiness in the dish. You will love both the taste and texture while relishing the wonderful, nutty and caramelized flavor.

Date adds texture, sweetness and goodness to home-baked products like bread, cakes, cookies and muffins. Date and walnut cakes offer a refreshing Christmas flavor.

Share it with your friends and raise a storm over a cup of hot coffee. A fresh New Year flavor to remember!

Dates give a crispy texture and natural sweetness to oats granola bars. It is an easy and wholesome recipe. You can make them in batches and store them in an airtight container.

A date with dates! You will always remember and enjoy the rendezvous. Make the appointment very often; it will be good for your health.

How Does Dates Taste?

Dates have a sweet and caramel-like flavor. They are naturally very sweet and have a rich, slightly chewy texture.

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The taste of dates can vary slightly depending on the variety and level of ripeness, but they generally have a pleasant, sweet taste that is often described as a combination of caramel, honey, and brown sugar.

Some people also detect a slightly nutty or earthy flavor in dates.

Overall, dates are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or used in a variety of recipes.

What Are the Best Dates for Cooking?

You can see that there are so many varieties of dates. You can pick 5 varieties which are considered as the best dates for your food.

Medjool dates are considered as one of the best dates which are flavorful, soft and even large. If you have it fresh it tastes wonderful as the moisture content in it is simply wonderful.  You can simply replace the dates with the sugar as it is good and perfect.

The Deri variety is soft, sweet and meaty and looks exactly like chocolate beans. It is actually available all round the year and it is having a darkish black color.

Ajwa dates are best for its health benefits and it is a soft and dry variety from Saudi Arabia.

Kimia Dates which are a black plump and it is cultivated in China but it actually originated in Iran.

Omani dates are something which is available in the Middle East. That means it is available in Oman. It has wonderful baking qualities of its own.

How Do You Use Dates in Cooking?

Dates are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Here are some ways to use dates in cooking:

Sweet treats: Dates are a great natural sweetener and can be used to sweeten desserts like cakes, cookies, and bars. You can blend dates into a paste and use it as a replacement for sugar in your recipes.

Smoothies: Add a few dates to your smoothies for a natural sweetener and added fiber.

Salads: Dates can add a sweet and chewy texture to salads. Simply chop them up and add them to your favorite salad.

Stuffing: Add chopped dates to stuffing for a sweet and savory twist.

Sauces and dips: Dates can be blended into sauces and dips for added sweetness and thickness. Try blending them with tahini for a delicious dip.

Meat dishes: Dates can be used to balance the flavors in meat dishes like tagines and stews. They can be cooked with the meat for added sweetness and texture.

Energy bars: Dates can be used as a base for homemade energy bars. Simply blend dates with nuts and other ingredients and shape into bars.

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These are just a few ideas for using dates in cooking. Get creative and experiment with different ways to use this delicious ingredient in your favorite dishes!

What Foods Pair Well with Dates?

Dates pair well with a variety of foods and flavors. Here are some suggestions for foods that pair well with dates:

Nuts: Dates and nuts are a classic pairing. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts all work well with dates.

Cheese: Dates pair nicely with soft, creamy cheeses like goat cheese or blue cheese.

Meats: Dates pair well with grilled or roasted meats like lamb and chicken.

Chocolate: Dates and chocolate make a decadent pairing. Try stuffing dates with dark chocolate for a sweet treat.

Salads: Dates add sweetness to savory salads, particularly those that feature greens, nuts, and cheese.

Oatmeal or Yogurt: Chopped dates add sweetness to a bowl of oatmeal or a serving of yogurt.

Baked Goods: Dates can be used in a variety of baked goods, including cookies, cakes, and muffins.

These are just a few ideas for foods that pair well with dates. Experiment with different combinations to find what works best for your tastes.

Questions & Answers:

Is Dates Sweet or Savory?

Dates are simply sweet and chewy. You can add it into various dishes and make it taste savory.

Is It OK to Heat Dates?

Yes, it is absolutely okay to heat the dates.

Do You Have to Soak Dates Before Cooking?

You can soak the dates 20 to 30 mins before cooking.

Do Dates Bake Well?

Yes of course you will be having a caramelized taste with equal amount of moisture, sweetness and after baking it becomes much softer.

Can You Eat Dates Without Drying?

Yes, dates are eaten in both ways – both raw and dried. But the dried dates are used in various items.

Does Dates Taste Like Curry?

No, it is not curry but there are some curry dishes where Medjool dates are added to make it much richer and more delicious.

What Are Dates Called in Different Languages?

Dates are known as “Khejur” in Bengali and “Khajur” in Hindi.

Conclusion

Dates are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can be used in a variety of recipes in Indian cuisine, including chutneys, milkshakes, kheer, halwa, salads, and baked goods.

They are rich in natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthy and nutritious food.

Overall, dates have a sweet and caramel-like flavor and a slightly chewy texture that makes them enjoyable on their own or in combination with other ingredients.

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