Date and Orange Blossom Milk from Fez
Last month, my sister and I took a last-minute trip to Fez, Morocco – to visit that incredible city of saints and hang out with some excellent friends along the way. Considering that we live an ocean apart and are both pretty tied up with professional and personal commitments, this was a rare treat and one we took full advantage of!
Most of the days had been hot, but this day was the hottest. The streets of the medina had been dusty but on this day seemed dustier still. Every winding road we turned seemed only to go uphill and our last day in Fez was becoming an endless trek to nowhere in particular. However, our outstanding company kept us in high spirits and sometime during the afternoon, it was decided we would have a meal at The Ruined Garden – a popular outdoor restaurant in the old city of Fez. Literally looking like a ruined garden, my sister, friends and I crowded around a table near the back wall and exhaled. It was beautiful and serene and a fitting place for our last Fassian meal. The menu looked particularly interesting but it was a drink that first caught my eye: “Date and Orange Blossom Milk”. After asking about it, our multilingual waiter (7 languages!) explained that in Fez, at times of great importance or celebration, they would infuse milk with orange blossom water and serve it with dates on the side and that is what had inspired this drink.
My Date and Orange Blossom Milk came in a cold hammered steel mug, smelling sweet and fragrant. I took a sip. Everything stopped. What was this extraordinary beverage? I looked in the mug trying to puzzle out the secrets of this exquisite blend of flavours. How could a drink be so simple and yet so sublime? So cooling to the body and calming to the soul? If it sounds like hyperbole, well… maybe it is, but in truth, it was amazingly delicious.
Once home, I knew I would need to try to recreate the Fassian Milk and Ramadan gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. Now, after some tinkering, here it is – luscious, refreshing and immensely satisfying. As they say in Morocco: Saha!
(Adapted from Date and Orange Blossom Milk from The Ruined Garden in Fez, Morocco)
Since there are so few ingredients in this drink, it really is important to try and use the highest quality dates, milk and orange blossom water available to you.
These quantities make enough for two regular sized tumblers or one very large mug
500ml Whole Milk, preferably organic
3-5 Dates I prefer to use these medjoul dates and needed only 4
¼ – ½ tsp Orange Blossom Water
Break the dates in half, remove the pits and add them to the milk and give it a little stir. Then cover the milk-date mixture and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
Several hours later or the next day (if left overnight), remove the milk-date mixture from the fridge and blend it. You can do this with a traditional blender or use a hand blender like I did. But be forewarned, if using a hand blender be a bit careful about the size of container and speed you are blending at – I was a bit over enthusiastic, resulting in some spills!
Once your dates are well blended into the milk, add the orange blossom water. Now, orange blossom water is quite strong so start off with about ¼ tsp and slowly add more according to your personal taste. I tend to use a ½ tsp or a bit more – it should be fragrant but not overpowering.
Stir well and serve. For the most authentic experience, pour into chilled metal mugs – we like these copper ones.