From A History of Food in 100 Recipes, William Sitwell, Collins, 2012.
When Coat-of-Many-Colours Joseph had gained a position of power in Egypt he was visited by his brothers who had sold him to slavers. They were seeking grain during the drought that had swept the land. The brothers did not recognise Joseph and he, after giving them supplies, told them there would be no more unless they returned with his younger brother. They returned with Benjamin, the brother, and their father gave them items to take with them: spices, almonds, sesame seeds and honey. It is reasoned in A History of Food in 100 Recipes that these items were for making tiger nut sweets, recipes for which have been found in parchment records of around 1700 BC, the time of Joseph.
It is an interesting tale and one that prompted me to make these earliest of sweets. The name ‘tiger nut’ comes from the fact that the sweets look somewhat like the tuber of the tiger nut plant.
There were no quantities so I just took about two handfuls of hazelnuts and roasted them in a dry pan. Almonds were quoted but I settled for hazelnuts. I chopped about the same amount of dates and chopped them roughly. The two ingredients went into the blender and were given a burst to break them up. I now added two dessertspoons honey and gave them a few more bursts to mix them. I next took small amounts and rolled them into balls that were then rolled in sesame seeds. They were ready.
These sweets were very acceptable. Who would have thought that sweets from such an early period are now making a great comeback in the form of so-called health bars. They were so easy to make and so good to eat I don’t think I’d ever think now to purchase the similar commercial items—and I know exactly what goes into mine.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔