Birbirri- The Original Dates Bites
Hello! My friend Natasha from Germany visited me earlier this past summer before I started blogging and I served her along with refreshing Sahara sun-dried mint tea some of my homemade birbirri which are dates mixed with sesame and peanuts bites- aka energy balls. She asked me from who I got the recipe as everyone is now making energy balls online. I was really surprised as my original recipe has been handed down in my family for generations. A quick google search made me realize how ever trendy those energy balls were and that I must have been living under a rock to have miss that!
When like me, you are a nomad from the Sahel and Sahara region, you know that you need to have your dates (bites or otherwise) to keep you energized and going, together with green mint tea!
So before further due, here is the original recipe of the date bites. It takes only 3 ingredients (dates, peanuts and sesame).
1 kg dates, pitted
500 g peanuts, blended into butter
300g tahini (sesame butter)
100 g roasted sesame for coating
In a powerful blender on high speed, add the tahini and peanuts butter and once they are mixed well and become a smooth homogenous butter, add the pitted dates. I often make my own tahini and peanut butter, simply by blending in high speed lightly roasted sesame and peanuts. In case you are wondering, my current blender is a Vitamix Professional Series 500. As dates tends to get sticky and do not easily always easily mix well in a blender, I find that it helps when I take time to hand mix the pitted dates by making a kind of date dough, prior to adding them to my dough mix.
While the blender is mixing everything, prepare a tray with the roasted sesame on it. Once all ingredients are blended nicely, take a small quantity in your hands- between a tea spoon and table spoon size, depending on how big you want the bites to be, and roll them using your two hands to make a ball, then roll them also in the roasted sesame tray. Keep doing the balls, until the dough is over. Then, for the balls to set and harden, you can put them in your fridge for about an hour. Usually a batch like this one lasts me for a couple of weeks or so, but those bites can be kept for about a month especially if you store them in a tightly closed container and/or in your fridge. After that, I personally find that with the humid Parisian climate, the peanuts tend to turn a bit rancid.
I obviously use a blender now, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry. It takes a bit more time, but you can do it, just like in Chad, by using a pestle and mortar to mix the bites dough by mixing the dates dough as explained above with the peanut butter and tahini. You could buy the tahini and peanut butter from the store- just make sure to check the list of ingredients to make sure that you are only getting sesame and peanuts without any artificial adds-on. Try also to get them organic if you can. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, it will just be much longer as you will have to make the dough all with your hands (believe me I have, at times when I did not own a powerful blender nor a pestle and mortal). The results may be a bit less pretty visually, but who cares, as long as you get all the deliciousness of it and the amazing nutritional value! If you are feeling lazy, you also don't need to roll them into balls, and just eat them out of a jar with a spoon. I confess, I had. Please don't judge me.
I now make different versions of it depending on which nuts I have in my pantry. Some favorites are almond, cashew, macadamia and pistachios. In some of my recipes, I substitute peanut with almond, hazelnut and/or macadamia butter. I love adding pure cacao powder to my mixes as well. I have also used less dates for nuttiers bites. Possibilities are really endless!
I hope you get to try and enjoy the original dates bites recipe. Have a blessed day!