August 21, 2014

Ranginak - Persian Date Dessert (Recipe #2)


We are in the midst of خرما پزان - khorma pazan season, a term used by locals in the south of Iran when the temperature reaches its peak of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit combined with an elevated humidity above 60 percent, thus making outdoor activities unbearable. However, due to this intense heat, dates become fully ripened/"cooked" while on the tree and ready for harvest. This recipe is an ode to the traditional Khuzestani-style رنگینک ranginak, a delicious date, and walnut dessert. This is an easy recipe that requires just a little bit of patience to stuff the plump pitted dates with lightly toasted walnuts, arrange them onto a platter, and slather them with a warm mixture of melted butter and flour infused with cardamom and cinnamon. The sweet taste of ranginak brings back memories of home.

Dates have been a part of Persian cuisine for hundreds of years. The palm dates grow southward along the Persian Gulf and the warm regions of Ilam, Bushehr, Fars, Khuzestan, Sistan & Baluchestan, and Kerman. To most people, pomegranates may be considered the national fruit of Iran but in my opinion, dates are the national fruit of Khuzestan! Many years have gone by since I lived there but it's the many images and memories that still run through my mind. I remember Khoramshar's vast fields of date palms, the stacks of tin buckets filled with dates in small shops, barely-ripe or half-ripe bunches of dates spread about on the woven mat, and then, of course, my mother's date dessert.

Dates were a snack for when we got home from school back then and now whether they are fresh, dried, large, or small, dates will go perfectly with your hot cup of tea any time of the day. They are so addictive that you'll be tempted to reach for a date with every sip and let the sweetness of the dates mingle with the aroma and slightly bitter taste of the strong, freshly brewed loose leaf chai. Dates are naturally sweet and substantially tastier than any other sweet fruits and they come in many different varieties and depending on when they are harvested dates may range from unripe to partially ripe or fully ripe.

I wrote my mother's version of this recipe a long time ago, which is less time-consuming than this version. In that recipe, instead of stuffing the dates one by one, you would combine them together and heat them through before you add the butter and flour mixture since you don't need to stuff them individually. My mother's approach to cooking was a no-fuss, no-frills way of cooking. On an ordinary day, she had to prepare meals for her large family and cooking was the only thing that she did not like to delegate at all.


Makes about 24 pieces

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. remove 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.
Serve with hot tea.



  1. How very exquisite! Thank you for sharing.

  2. wow Azita, this looks delicious!!

  3. This looks fantastic! I think it would be a great fall/winter dessert too.

  4. This looks amazing and I've never tried it - I am so mad I'm allergic to walnuts! Do you think I could omit the walnuts and add more pesteh??

    1. Thanks Ahu jan! Yes, omit the walnuts and add more pesteh or you can stuff each date with 2-3 pistachios.x

  5. Beautiful..I love Persian cuisine!

  6. My mama is the absolute same. Chores and so were shared, cooking was not (I'm talking, not even stirring!) These look lovely Azita. I love the combination of dates, cinnamon, cardamom and nuts. mm!