According to the Arabic legends,"After God had finished moulding Man from earth, He took the remaining material and shaped it into a date palm which he placed in the Garden of Paradise(Eden)".Dates are indeed heavenly.It is considered to be one of the earliest fruits that existed on earth.Archaeologists have found out wild date seeds dating back to 50,000 yrs in some parts of Northern Iraq.
I remember dates was often an inevitable item in my mother's pantry...The shops flood with dates especially during the Ramzan season.My mom used to make several dishes out of dates when we were kids.Dates filled chicken roast,dates pickle,dates payasam etc....Malabar Biriyani was often served with accompaniments like date pickle(shall post some day),onion raita and a suleimani tea.Eethappazham payasam is again another childhood memory for me...A simple milk pudding with dates added...I have made it a little richer with a slight change in the ingredients that my mom used.So here is the recipe for Eethappazha payasam.
Milk-1 1/2 cup
Sugar-1 cup( or as u require)
Cook cleaned chopped dates along with sago and milk on slow fire until sago becomes soft and transluscent.Now add condensed milk and sugar and reduce it to the required consistency by cooking on slow fire.Add cardamom powder and mix well.Remove from the fire.Now heat butter in a small wok.When the butter has melted add raisins and cashew nut and roast them to a golden brown tinge.Add this seasoning to the payasam. Mix well and serve it hot or cold.Those who like the saffron flavour may add 2 strands of saffron as well.