Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I love dates, the palm fruits from Arabia and Middle East. In Malaysia, especially in old days, fresh dates can only be found in the market during Ramadan or fasting month of Muslim calendar. In the old days, they are normally preserved date fruits.But now you can even found fresh date fruits from all over middle east and African countries.

Date palm fruit is green and turn to yellow, red and dark red to black colour. It contain a single seed. It is fruits from date palm, scientifically called Phoenix dactylifera.

I have seen date palm tree sometime ago in Doha, Qatar, before the Asian games. In Doha,you can see date palm trees everywhere; in the street, at the golf club, in residential area... I have tried dates from many countries; Iran, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and China( the red variety). But all are processed and imported in boxes.

The fresh dates I have tried was in old Qatar market, where the hawker in the market was selling the fresh fruit. It is harder than the ripe date, green in colour.

But the best date I have ever tried is from Israel, fresh from the farm. It was at a restaurant in Galilee. Since that day, dates has been my favorite fruit.

Now you can find varieties of dates in the market.

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).

In later times, Arabs spread dates around South East Asia, northern Africa, and Spain and Italy. Dates were introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards by 1765, around Mission San Ignacio.

(extract from wikipedia)

The dates I bought for this raya season is Mozafati date from Iran. According to wikipedia,

"it is mainly grown in Kerman province, and often named "Bam (Mozafati) dates", after a city in that province. It is a dark, soft and sweet date of medium size. It is exceptionally well-suited for fresh consumption, because of its long shelf life. At a temperature of -5 celcius it can be kept for up to 2 years. It accounts for 10% of total Iranian date crop. (100.000 tons, of which 30% is exported)"

Some note on date palm in Qatar:

"Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) (2n = 2x = 36) is dioecious, perennial, monocotyledon fruit trees that belong to the family of Arecaceae. Date is the major fruit crop of arid climate region in countries of Middle East and North Africa. It is the most important fruit tree in Qatar and is also used as an ornamental or shade plant in parks, gardens and alongside roads. Date Palm plantations represent 71% from the total area planted with fruit trees. Total area cultivated approximately 1366 ha (Containing 335765 trees bearing fruits and 146955 non productive trees). Most cultivation are in the North and Middle area of the state where environmental conditions are favorable, soil has deep profile with low salinity compared with other parts of the country (Abufatih et al., 1999)".

The one I ate at Galilee may be Medjool or (Mujhoolah) - from Morocco, also grown in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel; a large, sweet and succulent date. It is named unknown because who owned it at first didn't know its species and thus called it unknown.

If you have not try dates, give it a try, a beautiful fruit.

It is Mozafati dates from Iran.

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