Driving through the streets of Kuwait, you notice the fruit bearing branches of palm trees covered in green mesh and waiting. Inside the green mesh, the millions of date fruit are slowly ripening. These days, the time has come to take the dates out and see how they’ve turned out.
Usually the people of Kuwait would distribute the dates from their palm trees to family members and friends. I’m not a date eater, and can’t tell which kind of date or what phase is it in exactly, but my grandmother always insists I get my yearly share of her palm tree’s dates. I think she used the words Khallal or Retab but I’m not sure which is which so I’m going to stick with khallal. Big branches of khallal dates that made my husband happy.
Those big branches with the yellow fruits on them are what people send out. The dates at this stage are still not entirely ripe and when you bite into them they have a bit of crunch to them. According to my husband, they were unbelievably sweet and really good. Usually consumed with a glass of thick cold buttermilk, they have excellent nutritional properties and would make a meal entirely out of themselves.
The kind of dates they’ll turn out to be once they are fully ripened an transformed depends on the kind of tree they came from. Sukkary, berhi, or ekhlas if again I’m not mistaken. This is what I’ve heard from my father and husband anyway. How do people know the difference is beyond me, I guess from the taste or colour/shape?
I doubt you could use those dates in any recipe at this stage, not that I’m a fan of dates in food either. I’m going to set aside my husband’s share and then distribute the rest, want some, or do you already have too many at home?
Sifting through the golden fruits of the dessert, I found some half and half fruits like the one above. They have a name in Arabic that means half and half, nesafi or metnasef or something similar and I know many people who prefer this half sugary sweet half crunchy dates.
There were a handful of fully ripened dates but they were a bit squished and sticky, the dates at that stage are most likely called rotab and once they dry up a bit and lose some of their sticky moisture they become the dates everyone knows.
Many people around Kuwait are now making use of the dates they have on hand and are making different local desserts like tamreya or rangina which is a desserts of cooked dates with sugar, butter, and flour. Yes, not a fan but if they little golden fruits cooperate well and are all ripe and sticky I might make some for my husband and if I do I’ll be sharing on my blog.
Do you like khallal or retab? What do you usually do with them during this time of year? I wonder what happens to all the dates hanging from the palm trees in the highways and streets in Kuwait though?