Amir Hajj Dates
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The Amir Hajj date is a medium to large variety, just slightly smaller than a Medjool. They have a plump oval shape and deep amber color with a thin crackly skin. Their inner flesh is very soft and meaty with a succulent texture. With caramel-like notes, the Amir Hajj is both sweet and spicy with hints of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.
Amir Hajj dates are available in the fall.
The Amir Hajj date palm, also spelled Amer Hajj, is in the family Arecaceae and botanically classified as Phoenix dactylifera. They are a considered a soft date variety as is the Medjool, which is often regarded as the standard bearer in the date world. Soft dates are incredibly versatile but have become most famous in California when whipped into the iconic date shake, found throughout the American date growing regions between the Salton Sea and the Coachella Valley.
Amir Hajj dates are highly nutritious and a rich source of dietary fiber. They contain iron, potassium, B-vitamins, flavonoids, antioxidants and amino acids.
The soft consistency and the extraordinary sweetness of the Amir Hajj make it an ideal date for purees. Once pitted, blend the dates adding water accordingly and use as a natural sweetener in smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal or simply spread on toast. They tend to collapse when stuffed and are not meant to be used in recipes that call for semi-dry or dry dates. Instead reserve the Amir Hajj date for melting into a caramel sauce for a vegan dessert option or cooking down into a date syrup and drizzle over fresh ricotta cheese or basted on Easter ham. Complimentary flavors include nuts, chocolate, coffee, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut, orange, bananas, apricots, brandy, rum, cheese and bacon, pork and poultry.
In its native Middle Eastern culture, the Amir Hajj is sometimes referred to as "the visitor's date" because it is rare delicacy reserved for special guests.
The Amir Hajj variety was first brought to California from the Mandali Oasis in Iraq in 1929. The date palm is native to the historic territory that was previously known as the Ottoman Empire. Though they now thrive in the arid California climate, they Amir Hajj is still a rare treat to be found growing domestically. They are known for their generous pulp and superior flavor, but rarely sold outside farmers’ markets and specialty Middle Eastern grocers.