112. Kuwait: Ranginak (Date and Walnut Dessert)

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Kuwait is quite different from the other countries in the Gulf region. It is just as oil-rich as the other Arab countries but they choose not to express their wealth in the same way. Where the others are all about glitter and glamour, in Kuwait they made conscious decision not to sell its soul to the gods of commercialism. And Kuwait lies just far enough away from those Gulf mass tourism places to the south to mean that tourists and expats are fewer here. So it feels more authentic and less fake. That doesn’t mean that Kuwait is boring because it is most definitely not! Kuwait remains an oasis in a land of desert plains and has excellent museums, a fine souq,  beaches and lively restaurants.

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Things you didn’t know about Kuwait:

  • Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament and a constitution.
  • Kuwait National Day was celebrated on June 19th until 1962. In 1963, it was changed to February 25th in order to avoid the hot summer weather.
  • Gas is cheaper than water. Petroleum and petroleum products make up nearly 85% of export revenues.
  • The flag of Kuwait contains four colors: green, white, red, and black. They symbolize “our lands”, “our deeds”, “our swords”, and “our battles” respectively.
  • Wives do not take on their husband’s name upon marriage. The name you are born with is your name from birth until death.
  • They only make up a third of the population, a minority within their own country. The other 2/3 are composed of expats from all around the world. Kuwait has an interesting societal structure and the international community.

The ingredients sound a bit bland for someone who hasn’t tried the dish. But the overly sweet flavor of the fresh dates paired with the nutty earthy flavor of the flour mixture topped with cinnamon and walnuts is divine.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound dates, pitted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, halves
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons pistachios, finely crushed
  1. Toast walnuts in a small dry skillet for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fragrant. Stuff the toasted walnuts into the cavity of the dates.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet toast the flour for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently until the edges turn a light golden brown.
  3. Add the butter and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and sugar, stir well. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  4. Spread 1/2 of the batter on the bottom of the serving platter and arrange the stuffed dates in a single layer on the dish.
  5. Spread the remaining batter over the dates, gently press down. Garnish with pistachios. Let cool for a couple of hours.
  6. Serve with hot tea.
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