Qatari Al Rangina ~ Sweet, sticky dates in a cinnamon spiced butter ‘sauce’
This month’s MENA Cooking Club host for the country Qatar is Carrie from Witchy Kitchen.
I chose to cook the simplest and one could argue the tastiest dish of the three, Al Rangina.
Pitted dates covered in a cinnamon butter/ flour ‘sauce’ that resembles more of a paste, such as Tahini (sesame seed) than an actual sauce.
I made the sweet Al Rangina twice. The first time I followed this recipe, results were mediocre because 1. I’d forgotten to sieve the flour which meant I was left with little lumps in my ‘sauce’ 2. the amount of flour seemed too much and the texture of said hyphenated sauce was definitely more pasty. 3. I don’t think I cooked the flour and butter together long enough for the flour to toast properly.
Second time around was much better, I reduced the amount of flour, sieved said flour and toasted it alone in the pan like Maryam does before adding the butter and cinnamon. With said changes the dish is now a world apart from my first attempt.
A rich, nutty, silky smooth cinnamon spiced ‘sauce’ coating soft, sweet, chewy dates.
I ate the whole stick-to-your-ribs plateful to myself for a late, rather indulgent yet still somewhat ‘healthy’ breakfast. I think it’s meant to be a dessert, well for me that’s breakfast and obviously you’re meant to share it with the person you love most in the world, but hey you need to love yourself sometimes, am I right?!
Most Rangina recipes ask for cups of dates rather than only 10! I chose to go with a small scale recipe as I would be the only one eating, my husband was working and 2 out of 3 of my children don’t like dates (yeh I know, they don’t know what they are missing!). In keeping with keeping things small, I added a small pinch of cardamom along with the cinnamon but the cinnamon totally overpowered the cardamom. Unless you’re going to add a bigger pinch of cardamom, I would leave it out altogether and I’m not adding it to my recipe below.
I made Al Rangina with North African Deglet Nour dates, of course you can use any dates you prefer and the fresher the better. Please stay away from those packaged dates on supermarket shelves that are covered in a layer of syrup! dates are sweet enough all on their own even if they aren’t always shiny.
Speaking of sweet, some Al Rangina recipes call for letting the ‘sauce’ cool slightly and then dusting the dish with icing sugar. I didn’t feel this was necessary for the taste of the dish (your not supposed to eat the unsweetened sauce by itself), more for aesthetics and I say brown is beautiful.
I couldn’t find out what the name Rangina means in English (Al / ال = The), after asking Maryam for help it would seem Rangina is just, the name. I’ve always been obsessed with name meanings so that’s kinda frustrating. I look forward to seeing if other members of the cooking club got any further with this and of course if you dear reader can shed any light on Rangina’s name meaning, please kindly let me know in the comment section below.
Residents of Qatar can be divided into three groups: the Bedouin, Hadar, and Abd. The Bedouin trace their descent from the nomads of the Arabian Peninsula. The Hadar’s ancestors were settled town dwellers. While some Hadar are descendants of Bedouin, most descend from migrants from present-day Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and occasionally are referred to as lrani-Qataris. Alabd , which literally means “slaves,” are the descendants of slaves brought from east Africa. All three groups identify themselves as Qatari and their right to citizenship is not challenged, but subtle sociocultural differences among them are recognized and acknowledged.
Whilst researching further about Qatar I discovered that 90% of the people residing in Qatar, especially the capital Doha, are foreign workers. As a result the cuisine is largely influenced by those workers today and migrants from days past.
It comes with little surprise to tell you then that Iranians have a very similar dish called Ranginak ~ nut stuffed dates covered in a sweetened spiced butter sauce and lavishly decorated with more nuts.
Al Rangina would seem to be the plainer but still beautiful (and delicious) sister of Ranginak.
Could the Persian language be the key to unlocking the meaning behind Rangina?…
See how my fellow members fared this month cooking Qatari dishes.
- 10 dates (i used deglet noor)
- 3 tablespoon flour (plain whole wheat or white)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pit dates, set aside. In small frying pan over medium-low heat toast flour, stir continually. This step should take about 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and keep the pan on the hob whilst you stir in the butter and cinnamon.
- Toss dates in the ‘sauce’ then serve on a plate/dish and drizzle with remaining sauce.
all timings are approximate