Let's have a date!

Let's have a date!

The holy month of Ramzan is back. This is a test for all those who observe the rozas – for it calls for restraint, reflection and renewal. They utilise this month to better themselves by every possible means – by guarding their tongues, putting in long hours of worship and even opening up to a charitable cause. When it comes to consuming food during Ramadan, particularly while breaking fast, Muslims try to follow the tradition set by Prophet Muhammad – of having dates.

The sale of dates also increases during this time of the year and markets are seen selling great varieties. Muslims are also seen thronging to the marketplace to buy them along with other eatables. According to Osama Jalali, a food writer, “Prophet Muhammad used to break his fast with fresh dates as nothing else was available that time in deserts. One can break fast with dried dates also.” But there is also a scientific reason for consuming dates. Dates, being high in natural sugar content give instant energy, which is needed after day long fasting – often without water.

Sugars travel most quickly to the liver, where they are converted into energy more quickly than any other nutrient. Eating large quantities of food immediately after breaking a fast is not healthy, so, eating a few dates helps the body start its digestive process and gives it the energy to deal with more complex foods.

The most commonly selling dates are Kimiya dates, which are imported from Iran and priced at Rs 400-500/kg, Gulab jamun, which are locally grown prices at Rs 200-250/kg and Ajawa which is imported from Saudi Arabia and is the most expensive at Rs 800-1000/kg. Ajawa is a holy date which is said to have been consumed by Prophet himself.

According to Zuber Sherwani, a merchandiser, “There are a lot of dishes that are made from dates nowadays. Date pudding, date kheer and a modern version – date pancakes. Nowadays a new age date has an almond inside instead of the seed. Dates are also good for the body if consumed with milk. They are also good for children and the elderly.”

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