Moroccan Braised Chicken With Dates
Moroccan Braised Chicken With Dates (Carol Goodman Kaufman)
active: 15 min
Well before anybody had ever heard of National Arbor Day, we Jews had Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for Trees. On this holiday — while still the dead of winter here, it’s the beginning of spring in Israel — we eat many fruits, as well as samples of the seven species mentioned in the Torah.
Of those seven species, there is one that conjures up images of camel caravans, desert oases, and fragrant spices. After all, in the Book of Deuteronomy (31:20), we read that the Land of Israel is “a land flowing with milk and honey.” That honey, archaeologists believe, is not the clover variety that we can purchase at the local supermarket. Rather, it is the syrup made from dates.
Soft, sensuous, and seriously sweet, the fruit of the date palm is God’s gift to humanity. It is so important that it is mentioned throughout the Tanach: in Exodus, Psalms, Song of Songs, Ezekiel, First Kings, and Second Chronicles. Our ancient ancestors valued the date so much that they used its image in the Temple.
Nothing can beat biting into a Medjool date, a large and luscious caramel-and-honey-flavored delight. Often referred to as “the king of dates,” it was once reserved for Moroccan royalty. Luckily, it is now available widely to the rest of us, thanks to growers in Israel, California, and other warm climates.
If you want to make a real splash, try incorporating these dates into a special Tu B’Shvat dinner. And what better way than to use them in a recipe that our Moroccan cousins have been preparing for centuries. They are the perfect ingredient for this recipe that calls for other traditional North African ingredients, such as almonds, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon that bring sweetness and texture to the dish.
Conjure up an atmospheric Middle Eastern night as you prepare this dish for the holiday. Happy Tu B’Shvat!