Savour Afghani dried fruits and saffron at IITF
All stalls of Afghanistan are selling only dried fruits and saffron. Dried figs, seedless apricots, highest quality of almonds, walnuts, pistachio without shells, dry shehtoot, chilgoze or neje, Kabuli chana, heeng and saffron are drawing the people in large numbers. While many are buying the stacks, those who find it way too costly are happy enough just tasting these exotic dried fruits. Figs (anjeer) displayed at every stall of Afghanistan in the form of a garland are attracting visitors the most.
Satar Bai almonds that grow only in Mazar-e-Sharif in north Afghanistan cost Rs 1400 per kilo at the Trade Fair but there is no dearth of takers. “It is the highest quality almond. It contains less oil and is very good for the brain and heart, especially patients. People are also taking shahi jeera and dried shehtoot which cost Rs 1000 per kg,” says Javid Hamidzada, managing director, Kabul Fruits.
Also catching the attention of the visitors is the beautiful fragrance of the best of Afghanistan’s organic saffron. One gram of saffron is available for Rs a cool 250. Edreez Mohammed of Hamidzay Brothers, who has been participating in IITF for the last six years, says, “Saffron grows in Kashmir also but it is adulterated by synthetic colours in the process of reaching the cities. Ours is 100 per cent original. Now we have reddish saffron as the quality of the yellow flower has deteriorated in Afghanistan.”
A lot of people are also buying saffron for tea which is said to infuse energy. “I have heard that tea made of saffron keeps one fresh throughout the day and Afghani saffron should be best,” says Rajesh Verma, one of the visitors.
Chilgozas or neje, sourced from Afghanistan, are enjoyed in India too, but their production has gone down. “The best quality of chilgoza grows in the mountainous area of Afghanistan Jaji. But there too, its production and export has gone down over the years. We get it from gardeners there and polish them before selling,” says the exhibitor at Insaf Noor, Kabul. One kg of neje available for Rs 1200 per kilo.