These Middle Eastern pastries filled with dates and nuts are one of the oldest Jewish pastries and made throughout the year on all festive occasions.
Combine the semolina, sugar and rosewater or orangeflower water. Heat the or butter or margarine until it starts to foam and pour into the semolina and mix well.
Heat the milk or water to just below boiling point, remove from the hear and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add to the semolina mixture. Mix to a soft dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave for several hours.
Preheat the oven to 160c/325f/gas mark 3.
Mix the ingredients for the filling together to make a softish paste. Pinch off a piece of semolina dough about the size of a large walnut and roll into a ball. Place in your palm and gently cup your hand to push up the sides whist simultaneously using your thumb (either hand!) to hollow out the dough. You should end up with a thimble or pot shape which you then fill with the stuffing. Mould the dough back over the top to seal the pastry and either keep as a pouch or roll into a ball again. This all sounds much worse than it is in reality; it just needs time, a few tries and a positive attitude.)
If you do not have a traditional mould, place the balls on a baking tray, flatten slightly and use a fork to make a pattern on the surface. Bake for about 25 minutes. Do not allow to brown; they should be lightly coloured. Leave on the baking sheet to cool and firm up, then transfer to a wire rack or plate and dust with icing sugar.
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