These irritatingly addictive little balls are the backdrop to every cultural or religious calendar event in India. They can be made in minutes and stored for weeks, and are delightful to eat as a snack, on picnics, or even to give to others. A food processor will make light work of preparing them, but if you don’t have one you can still make this recipe by chopping the dates and heating all the ingredients (bar the coconut for rolling the balls) in a non-stick pan until they come together.
Makes approx. 14
1¼ cups pitted dates
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (or finely ground seeds from 6 pods)
½ cup chopped mixed nuts (e.g. walnuts and pecans)
Before you start, it’s worth setting up your rolling station. Spread some desiccated coconut on a plate in an even layer, and keep a plate for the finished balls nearby.
Check the dates for pits, then put them into a food processor along with the coconut oil, cardamom, and 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut, and blend. It will take a few minutes for the mixture to come together into a dough. When it does, take it out and put it in a bowl.
Add the chopped nuts to the bowl and knead into the date mixture until well mixed. If it’s a bit sticky, rub a teaspoon of coconut oil onto your hands. Roll into marshmallow-sized balls, then roll around in the desiccated coconut.
These balls can be kept in an airtight container in a cupboard for a month or so, but they’re much nicer if kept in the fridge, as the dates will harden and taste like delicious chewy toffee.