As the holy month of Ramzan approaches, the markets in Hyderabad are flooded with various varieties of dates. Muslims consider Khajur (dates) as the most important and significant item to end their Roza (day-long fast) and do their Iftar. Hyderabad is one of the biggest markets for dates in the country, and Muslims are seen buying Khajur in huge quantities imported from Iran, Iraq (Zahidi dates), and other middle eastern countries like Kimia, Shukkuri, KupKup, Khudri, Mariyum, Kalmi, Mashrooq, among others.
The city receives around 400 trucks of dates from various seaports like Mumbai and Chennai. This dry fruit is mainly imported from Iran, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iraq, and a few other countries. According to traders, the sale of Khajur has already started, as retailers and customers started procuring dates. Zahidi dates imported from Iran and Iraq are usually cheaper as compared to the other varieties and are in huge demand. They cost around Rs 200 to Rs 400 per kg.
Customers with higher spending capacity prefer buying premium dates mainly from Tunisia, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Some varieties like Ajwa are sold at premium prices of Rs 2,000 kg and above in the market. It is believed to have medicinal value too.
Earlier, only two or three varieties of dates were available in the market, but now there are nearly 40 varieties that can be found. The most famous variety of dates sold in the City are Kimia, Shukkuri, KupKup, Khudri, Mariyum. Slowly people are preferring other varieties and asking for Mazafati, Kalmi, Mashrooq, Maghroom among others. Dates filled with some dry fruits like almond, nuts, apricots etc. are also sold in demand.
Dates are considered an important dry fruit as traditionally devout Muslims break their fast by consuming it while other fruits or eatables are consumed later. Each family consumes at least 7-8 kg of dates in a month during Ramzan. Dates are also one of the important ingredients of Sheer Khorma, which is relished as a dessert on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the last day of Ramzan.
It is observed that vendors and pushcart sellers are selling dates at high prices, making huge profits by charging more around Rs 80-120 a kg and selling each box of 500 gm of Kimia dates at Rs 250-280. However, there is no noticeable change in the prices of dates in general.