Many people assume that wrinkled, sticky dates are a dried fruit, much like prunes or dried apricots. In fact, regular dates are fresh fruits that acquire many of the same characteristics as dried fruit (thin skin, extreme sweetness) because they are grown in the desert. This recipe calls for dried dates. You will find this specialty food sold chopped and often covered with flour to prevent sticking. They act as a perfect sweet foil to highly spiced lamb stews.