The literal translation of madgooga (مدقوقة) is “pounded.”
For centuries, these miracle balls were traditionally made by pounding the dates and sesame together. Nowadays everything is facilitated, and a meat grinder saves us much time and effort.This recipe was passed on to me vocally by my paternal aunt, may Allah protect and heal her, and is a staple in Iraq, from feeding them to children to boost immunity and energy, to presenting them in funerals.
I call them “miracle balls” because of their unbelievable health benefits: dates are heart-friendly and have antioxidants preventing cancer, dates allay anxiety and nervous disorders, dates provide complete nutrition even to the poor who are deprived of regular food and are rich in iron and many other minerals… the list goes on. Our honorable lady Maryam, mother of the prophet Jesus, was told to shake the palm tree and eat from the fallen dates when she was in labor to facilitate the birth.
As for sesame, sesame boasts of amazing levels of calcium and reduce “bad” cholesterol. In addition to all that, they fill you up so quick, and are absolutely delicious.
To further enhance the flavor, the balls, or date truffles, are drenched in a mixture of date molasses and tahini (sesame paste). But this is entirely optional and not everyone does it.
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup roasted sesame seeds
1-2 tsp powdered cardamom
1/2 cup date molasses
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
Place dates in a plastic basin with plenty of room.
Grind half or all* of the sesame seeds and add to the dates and cardamom.
For texture, I grind only half of the seeds.
Mix the three ingredients well to coat the dates with the sesame and cardamom.
Push the mixture through a meat grinder.
If you want a finer texture, push twice through the meat grinder.
Using your palms, form small chunks of the paste into balls just big enough to pop in your mouth.
If your kitchen is hot, place the balls in the refrigerator for an hour or two before placing then in a clean and sterile air-tight jar, otherwise if they are too warm, they might “melt” into each other.
Mix the date molasses and the tahini (sesame paste), and pour on top of the dates.
This is entirely optional, and not at all necessary, but it sure does elevate the flavor department.
If you do not own a meat grinder, you may make these date balls using a heavy-duty food processor.
Simply grind all the sesame then mix it well with the dates and cardamom. Process in batches.
*Note: I grind only half of the seeds for texture. If you want a completely smooth paste, grind all the sesame seeds, but only for a few short seconds otherwise the oil will leak and form sesame paste not sesame powder.