Dried fruits … a cultural struggle to attract gourmets

Banana, mango and pineapple in competition with figs and apricots

A few years ago, it was not uncommon in Egypt to stroll through a pastry shop and nuts and find glass jars filled with dried bananas, mangoes, pineapples and kiwis, while the capital was accustomed only to apricots, figs and plums. dried known as “qrasya” and only during the month of Ramadan.

These items were noticed by Al-Mahrusa with groups of Syrian brothers coming to it.

Hussein, one of the vendors inside the Syrian shop “Abu al-Khair” which is spread all over Cairo, says that dried fruits of all kinds have distinguished and established their presence in the market, adding for Asharq Al-Awsat: “In the beginning, the Egyptian buyer looked at dried fruits with astonishment, not only because we offer unknown varieties like kiwi, mango and others, but also because they are available all year round, but the Egyptians only offered them during Ramadan. trip, and he added: “Part of the challenge was to convince the client to try it and once he takes the initiative, he will not forget the good taste and will inevitably come back.”.

The dried fruit market is one of the leading markets in the world involving the development of innovative technologies and a highly classified segment. According to a US-based market analysis and consulting company, “manufacture link”, in a report published in early May, this market is in the process of significant growth of 6.8%, which began last year and is expected to continue until 2030. The report notes the depth of structure Competitiveness of the dried fruit market worldwide.

In response to a question about the reason for this shift towards dried fruits, chef Muhammad Al-Kalha told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is an expected reflection of a world in which cultures are constantly merging, adding: The world has become open. , geographical or ideological barriers no longer have a place in the world As a default, it can communicate and integrate. At the click of a button, you can view and simulate the eating culture of peoples millions of miles away. “Kalha also links the growth of dried fruit to a conscious or healthy eating pattern. We are now smarter in defining eating options. We are looking for tasty food, but it would be better if he did not break down the equations of healthy eating. and because dried fruits are a storehouse of vitamins and minerals, it is not surprising that they are at the top of recipes and stores. ”

Recipe by chef Mohamed Al Kalha

On their nutritional value he says: “Dried fruits, including dried apricots, blueberries, raisins, dates, figs and prunes contain a large amount of nutrients and the reason is that nutrients and fiber are more concentrated when water leaves. fruit. “

By comparison, half a cup of dried apricots contains 4.7 grams of fiber, but the same amount of fresh apricot slices contains 1.6 grams of fiber. Dried fruit is also a rich source of antioxidants and B vitamins.

The popularity of dried fruits has led people to try unfamiliar types of fruit. Al-Kalha says of the latest trends in dried fruits: “I was surprised by the availability of dates in their dried form, as well as bananas, kiwi , pears, apples. and strawberries, but it is a golden opportunity to try more recipes loaded with nutritional values, and although most varieties Fruits can be dried, but not all are useful and tasty after drying. ”

“In general, dried fruits can be a nutritious snack, convenient and portable, especially when mixed with nuts and eaten as a snack between main meals.”

The chef, Muhammad al-Kalha, is a Jordanian citizen, lives in Kuwait and moves to various Arab countries, so he is close to the details of Arab cuisines and says about most of the countries that had their mark in offering dried fruits “Dried fruits, in my opinion, are among the cultures of all the Arab peoples. The Gulf has dried dates, and Egypt, the Hijaz and the Maghreb are famous for their khushaf. As for the Levant, it happened and there is nothing. long ago we dried figs, apricots and grapes and the list goes on, even if it is one of the biggest countries, I would say Turkey in terms of the variety of dried fruits it has.

And for the best kinds of dried fruits, al-Kalha says: “Grapes or raisins, as we call them after drying, because they are used in sweet and delicious dishes, and are close to the taste of Arabic cuisine, as well as figs. and cranberry. ”

And about the easiest way to eat, he says: “Al-Khoshaf’s recipe is wonderful, distinctive and very useful. “It’s the best way to eat dried fruit in its natural form without adding sugar or any fat.” He describes. it as “Qamar al-Din juice diluted with water, mixed with an appropriate amount of soaked nuts and dried fruits.” in advance with water and rose water.

It is true that Al-Khashaf has recipes that are popular in our Arab countries, but Al-Kalha wanted to leave traces in the ideas and recipes of dried fruits. And he gave more than one recipe: We bring dried figs, cut them into quarters and then soak them in pure virgin olive oil for two days and start eating a pill on an empty stomach in the morning, a morning of good. is beneficial for digestive system health, immunity and memory improvement.

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