On the sixth day of Chanucah Tunisians celebrate Rosh Hodesh El Bneit or Fete des Filles — the festival of the girls. Girls are the centre of attention for that day. They receive presents from their parents and fiancées and farka — a Tunisian sweet cake of couscous, walnuts and dried fruit is served.
Preparation: 30 minutes plus overnight cooling
Cooking: 60 minutes
500g fine couscous
500g medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
100g ground walnuts
100g caster sugar
100ml sunflower or vegetable oil
2 oranges, juice of both, zest of one
100 mixed dried cranberries and raisins
You will need a large sieve that will fit over a large pan in order to steam the couscous.
In a bowl, wash the couscous. Let it drain on the sieve.
Reserve the whole walnuts and a few dried cranberries and raisins for the decoration.
Return the drained couscous to the bowl and add the sugar, sunflower oil, ground walnuts and the remaining mixed cranberries and raisins.
Cut the dates in small pieces and add them to the couscous.
Mix all the ingredients in the bowl if possible by hand or with a large fork in order to blend them all together and mash the dates almost to a puree in the couscous.
Half fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Place the mixture in the large sieve and place it over the pan of simmering water. Cover the sieve with a lid.
Steam the covered couscous for approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure all the ingredients blend together. Do not let the pan boil dry.
Let it cool and add the orange juice and zest and a few drops of almonds extract.
Mix well and put in a square 22-25cm dish. Decorate with walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins and refrigerate overnight.
Serve on the sixth day of Chanucah.