Sally Butcher of Persepolis fame (see Marina O Loughlin’s review of her café in last week’s Guardian) has a fried eggs and dates recipe in her book Veggiestan, Diana Henry has an eggs, spinach and dates recipe in her new book, Simple, and Ottolenghi once put up a recipe for ‘Zhoug‘ on the Guardian which mixes cardamom with coriander. A distillation of all of these references explains the genesis of this sauce in my head. I really loved it. Dates with eggs in a savoury dish is odd idea in the context of bacon-and-egg-European-egg-eating, but it’s really very good indeed. Sweet, aromatic, green, savoury, spicy and delicious. I plan to use the rest in a fried egg naan, maybe with a pickled chilli, some raw spinach and a dab of yogurt.
How to make
Roughly chop 8 smallish dates and add them to a small pan with a walnut-sized knob of unsalted butter, a crushed garlic clove, a teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom extracted form their pods and crushed. Cook on a low heat until soft and the garlic is sweet, and the dates are softened – around 5 minutes.
Add to a blender or use a hand blender to pulverize with a medium sized bunch of coriander, a handful of parsley, 1 clove of raw garlic, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 small red chilli, seeds removed, and a hefty pinch of salt (to taste) and a teaspoon of vinegar.
Eat with eggs and vegetables. We had had it with Claudia Roden’s extremely simple Shakshuka from Middle Eastern Cookery, made by sautéing green pepper slices with 1 sliced onion, and then adding 1 large tomato cut up and cooked down until all is soft with some oil and salt, then bake the eggs in.
We ate this with pitta breads, warmed up and a pot of tea.