Every Ramadan, we make sure to stock up on dates to open our fasts with. A reporter asked me today, how come you always break your fasts with dates?
I guess we do it today still because of the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad who always opened his fasts with dates.
This fabulous and healthy fudgy fruit has been part of the staple food of the Middle-East as early as 6000 BC. It's super rich in Vitamin C and together with milk makes an excellent diet for Ramadan.
Did you know that there are female and male date palm trees? And these days, although date palms are naturally pollinated by winds, mankind's overconsumption has lead to a need for manual massproduction of dates by human hands. One male plant can with help, pollenize 50 female plants. And contrary to what I thought, Egypt and Iran are the largest producers of dates in the world, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan following closely.
Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names kimri (unripe), khalal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). Tamr is also the name by which dates are known in the Arabic language.
Do you always eat dates in Ramadan? Do you use them in your cooking as well?