Mishkhab delicacies

Date merchants showcase winter varieties in Najaf

NAJAF, MISHKHAB, December 24 – In the small town of Mishkhab, located in Najaf, date merchants are showcasing their skill in presenting various date varieties during the winter season. Notably, prices for these dates are higher compared to the summer months. A particularly high demand is observed for the pressed date variety known as Hulana or basket, a traditional form that has evolved from its original palm frond composition.

Three primary methods are employed by local merchants for pressing dates. The first method, now rarely used due to the scarcity of materials, involves weaving palm fronds. The second and more common method utilizes plastic bags. Here, bags filled with dates are stacked to apply pressure and left in sunlight for three days to a week. The third method, more prevalent in the Basra province than Mishkhab, involves placing dates inside a tin can.

Another popular date product is the Madkuka with Tahinia. This delicacy is prepared by extracting the kernel from dates, pounding them into a dough using a mortar and pestle, and then forming them into various shapes like spheres, squares, or triangles. Sometimes, these are filled with walnuts, adding to their flavor and texture.

Sayed Manaf, a local date seller, spoke to 964media about the current market trends. He noted that the most sought-after product is the plastic-packaged Hulana, priced at 5,000 Iraqi dinars per kilogram. This price is notably higher than other date varieties such as Shuwaithi, Dairy, and Khestawi.

Manaf also mentioned the popularity of Madkuka with Tahinia among city residents. He sells a box for 5,000 dinars, emphasizing that the dates used should be dry for making this delicacy. The variety of forms and the unique preparation method make Madkuka with Tahinia a favored choice for many consumers in Mishkhab.