Fresh red dates (huluwa dates) and yellow dates (barhi dates).
The highlight of the holy month of Ramadan for non-Muslims must surely be the mind-boggling array of delicacies for breaking fast at the bazaars. I have yet to visit one but I know what I like about Ramadan. It is neither the ayam golek, bubur lambuk nor the mouth-watering kuihs though.
I like the fresh dates from the Middle East most. They are available only during Ramadan. I had some last years and liked them very much. There are two varieties – red (huluwa dates) and yellow (barhi dates). Wuan bought some for me from the fruit stall near her work place last week. The huluwa dates are elongated while the barhi dates have a rather roundish shape. Both are astringent when they are unripe.
The huluwa dates ripen quicker. Their skin turns dark red, almost brownish, and becomes wrinkled and soft. The wrinkled ones I had smelt fermented and were unsavoury. I am not sure if they were rotten. On the other hand, the barhi dates ripen very slowly. The skin turns a darker shade as they ripen. The firm and unripe ones were slightly astringent and slightly sweet at the same time. I like the crunchiness as well. Hmm, I better stock up on the barhi dates before the supply runs out at the end of Ramadan.