Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

First Dates

There are some advantages to being in Kuwait in the dead heat of summer. One is that even in peak driving time, the roads are far less crowded. Restaurants are less crowded. Shops are full of all the things that go missing when the entire population is in town.

And – if you are here in July, and if you have good Kuwaiti friends with date trees – you get a big bowl of fresh, sweet DATES!

These are unbelievably yummy. I always liked dates, but until we moved to Tunisia, I didn’t know the pure joy of fresh dates. Living in Kuwait when the first dates of the season start ripening – pure bliss.

No, my Kuwaiti friends are very generous, they gave me a great big plate of dates, it’s just I’ve already eaten most of them! I had to take a photo quickly, before I ate the few remaining!

I went to Wikipedia on Date Palms to discover there are countless varieties of dates. They give this lengthy list of dates, and then say that in Iraq there are more than 100 different dates cultivated:

Aabel – common in Libya
Ajwah – from the town of ‘Ajwah in Saudi Arabia, it is the subject of a famous hadith of the prophet Muhammad.
Al-Barakah – from Saudi Arabia
Amir Hajj or ‘Amer Hajj’ – from Iraq, these are soft with a thin skin and thick flesh, sometimes called “the visitor’s date” because it is a delicacy served to guests.
‘Abid Rahim (Arabic: عبد رحيم‎), from Sudan
Barakawi (Arabic: بركاوي‎), from Sudan
Barhee or (barhi) (from Arabic barh, a hot wind) – these are nearly cylindrical, light amber to dark brown when ripe; soft, with thick flesh and rich flavour. One of the few varieties which are good in the khalal stage when they are yellow (like a fresh grape as opposed to dry, like a raisin).
Bireir (Arabic: برير‎) – from Sudan
Deglet Noor (Arabic: ‘translucent’ or ‘date of light’) – so named because the centre appears light or golden when held up to the sun. This is a leading date in Algeria, the USA, and Tunisia, and in the latter country it is grown in inland oases and is the chief export cultivar. It is semi-dry and not very sweet.
Derrie or ‘Dayri’ (the ‘Monastery’ date) – from southern Iraq – these are long, slender, nearly black, and soft.
Empress – developed by the Deval Family in Indio California USA from a seedling of ‘Deglet Noor’. It is larger than ‘Deglet Noor’, somewhat softer and sweeter. It generally has a light tan top half and brown bottom half.
Ftimi or ‘Alligue’ – these are grown in inland oases of Tunisia.
Holwah (Halawi) (Arabic: ‘sweet’) – these are soft, and extremely sweet, small to medium in size.
Haleema – in Hoon, Libya (Haleema is a woman’s name)
Hayany – from Egypt (Hayani) (Hayany is a man’s name) – these dates are dark-red to nearly black and soft.
Iteema – common in Algeria
Kajur – common in Pakistan / India
Kenta – common in Tunisia
Khadrawi date / Khadrawy (Arabic: ‘green’) – a cultivar favoured by many Arabs, it is a soft, very dark date.
Khalasah (Arabic: ‘quintessence’) – one of the most famous palm cultivars in Saudi Arabia, famous for its sweetness level that is not high nor low, thus, suits most people. Its fruit is called ‘Khlas’. Its famous place is ‘Huffuf’ (Al-Ahsa) in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Al-Sharqheyah).
Khastawi (Khusatawi, Kustawy) – this is the leading soft date in Iraq; it is syrupy and small in size, prized for dessert.
Maktoom (Arabic: ‘hidden’) – this is a large, red-brown, thick-skinned, soft, medium-sweet date.
Manakbir – a large fruit which ripens early.
Medjool date
Medjool or (Mujhoolah) (Arabic: ‘unknown’) – from Morocco, also grown in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel; a large, sweet and succulent date. It is named unknown because who owned it at first didn’t know its specie and thus called it unknown.
Migraf (Mejraf) – very popular in Southern Yemen, these are large, golden-amber dates.
Mgmaget Ayuob – from Hoon, Libya
Mishriq (Arabic: ‘East’ – مشرق)‎ – from Sudan and Saudi Arabia
Nabtat-seyf – in Saudi Arabia.
Rodab – from Iran, they are dark and soft.
Sag‘ai – from Saudi Arabia.
Saidy (Saidi) – soft, very sweet, these are popular in Libya.
Sayer (Sayir) (Arabic: ‘common’) – these dates are dark orange-brown, of medium size, soft and syrupy.
Sekkeri – (lit. sugary) Dark brown skin; distinctly sweet and soft flesh, from Saudi Arabia.
Sellaj – in Saudi Arabia.
Tagyat – common in Libya.
Tamej – in Libya.
Thoory (Thuri) – popular in Algeria, this dry date is brown-red when cured with a bluish bloom and very wrinkled skin. Its flesh is sometimes hard and brittle but the flavour described as sweet and nutty.
Umeljwary – in Libya.
Umelkhashab – Brilliant red skin; bittersweet, hard white flesh (Saudi Arabia).
Zahidi (Arabic: ‘[Of the] ascetic’) – these medium size, cylindrical, light golden-brown semi-dry dates are very sugary, and sold as soft, medium-hard and hard.

July 17, 2008 - Posted by | Community, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions


  1. oh I LOVE khalal! Its my favorite, and I have to have it spotless (no brown whatsoever) and you know what? I sometimes add some Kraft spread cheese or labneh to it! YUMMMMM

    Not a big fan of dates myself, but recently I have come to an understanding! I tried dates pudding unknowingly it contained dates, and loved it LOL!

    Comment by Ansam | July 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. Is that what I have? It is sort of red? I really love it. I eat them for breakfast, and now and then through the day. They are SO sweet! I didn’t think dates were special until I moved here and ate FRESH dates.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. Khalal are the yellow ones…. that I like (not soft ones)

    Comment by Ansam | July 17, 2008 | Reply

  4. I love dates 🙂
    and your post reminded me that I asked my dad to get some dates and he still didn’t ^^

    Comment by Aurous | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  5. Oh, Ansam – I think I know the khalal – are they a little bit round, and very sweet? You can freeze them and they are as good as fresh when you thaw them?

    Aurous – Now’s the time! 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  6. yes… very yellow ones hehehe

    Comment by Ansam | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  7. Oh Yummmmm. I thought those were sukkeri, but it’s hard for me to keep all the names straight. I need to spend years eating dates to learn the differences. Love those yellow ones! 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  8. then try them with Kraft spread cheese!

    Comment by Ansam | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  9. ooh love dates…dates always remind me of Ramadan…also love the halwa dates my mom makes

    Some dates are quite expensive; a student once told me that there’s a certain type of date in SA that’s about 20 KD per KG

    btw, i believe the name of the dates from Iran is misspelled, it’s roTab not roBab…i thought maybe both pronunciation is correct but i check with a couple of other iranian and they all say it’s rotab…i went to wiki and fixed the spelling…first time i edited anything in wiki…had no idea how easy it is for anyone to edit the info..thanks for this post that led to me discovering sth this early morning 😀

    Comment by Darya | July 19, 2008 | Reply

  10. You know how you are with cats, Ansam? I am that way with Kraft processed cheeses . . . the only thing I buy them for is like once a year when I make my southern husband some Velveeta-cheese dip – actually, maybe once ever ten years. That stuff is so processed it is barely cheese anymore! I love the dates just straight, or with an almond inside!

    Darya- YOU edit Wikipedia? I am so impressed. Like intellectually, I know we are all supposed to be able to do it, but yikes! I find it too intimidating. Love the resource, and I am in awe of you for doing it!

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 19, 2008 | Reply

  11. As the saying goes ;

    No matter what you think of the Arabs , they surely know how to eat their dates .


    Comment by daggero | July 19, 2008 | Reply

    • I am a date grower in Indio California USA. I love dates! yes there are may ways to pronounce and spell many of these words. For instance rotab can also be spelled rutab. Editing Wikipedia is easy, but be sure you are adding good information. I have edited Wikipedia on some of the information about dates.
      I grow Barhi, also spelled Barhee and I believe in Iran the have yet another spelling. I also grow Medjool, Halawi, Khadrawi, Zahidi, Deglet Noor, Sayer, Khalasa, Abada, Amir Hajj, Honey Date, Samany. It is wonderful to taste the difference in recipes. I like Abada or Zahidi as a snack from my pocket, Barhi with my oatmeal in the morning or with cream cheese and walnuts, or with ice cream, Amir Hajj with fish or smoked meats, and Medjools stuffed with nuts and dipped in chocolate. Each has it’s own wonderful flavor. Try different kind. What kind do you like best for your recipe?

      Comment by SoftMentor | May 12, 2009 | Reply

  12. My friend has several kinds – I like them all for different things. I love the Bahri, just for eating, and the Sukrii – I would have to say those are my favorites. For baking, I use whatever I have – I’ve never baked a date I didn’t like. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 13, 2009 | Reply

  13. I’ve grown date by seeding in Thailand since 2002. I think I already have Hayani,Dayri,Zahidi,Deglet Nour. Just now I’ve seen the next one have fruit very similar with your photo above.Pls tell the name. Is it name Yummy.

    Comment by Boonthai Dates | July 23, 2009 | Reply

    • Hello Boontha,

      I am just started to germinate some of the dates here in Thailand. I live in Nonthaburi. Where are you from ?
      I took some seeds with me from Penang and they are now starting to grow, amazing !
      The Deglet Nour i bought in Big C are not yet germinating,
      maybe they take longer. The ones i have are from Israel, maybe they do something to make them infertile ? Or i have to be more patient with them ?

      Comment by Leo Gerritsen | December 4, 2009 | Reply

  14. I am sorry, Boonthai, I don’t know the name of the ones above. They were given to me.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 23, 2009 | Reply

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