Barhi dates tree are native of India and considered as a very important food source tree of the genus Phoenix with also called as Date palm, tree of the same genus and referred to as Date fruit, and used both for ornamental purpose and for food. It has been cultivated since ancient times in India and Sri Lanka and these varieties are found in dry regions and semi-arid areas as well. It is a monocarp which means it is without seeds and without leaves, closely related to the peanut tree.
Dried Barhi dates are dried and cracked and so a new name is assigned to it Barhi Deira or Desert Date. The dry matter consists of grains of sand which are refined using various methods. These grains are then treated using various processes to make the end product as fine, soft, pulpy, thick and dry like ripe fruits. These products have a very sweet taste and are popular all over the world for their high value as food and their low price.
Barhi dates are found in many parts of Kerala including districts of Kumarakom, Kollam, Kottayam, Thiruvallam, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod. They are not too choosy about habitats and prefer grassy slopes. They flourish best in humid and semi-arid conditions. They are not very choosy about nectar and do not like dried fruits. They like coarse grains like barley, millet, semolina, faro and soya.
There are three stages in making the most popular Barhi dates, which are green (frying), brown and dark brown in color. The length of the dates varies from two to five inches. The green ones are harvested while the brown ones are ground before picking and can be eaten immediately. The dark brown ones need to be roasted for a few minutes to remove the coating and then fried in coconut oil. After being fried they can be stored in refrigerator for up to six months.
Barhi dates are popular all over India for their unique sweet taste. Butterscotch is the common name given to this nut which is also know as Swayan in some parts of India. The palm nuts of this tree are used for dry fruits and butterscotch dates are one of the best of this type of dates in the market today. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium and magnesium which are important in maintaining a good cardiovascular health.
Middle east countries are famous for their Barhi dates as these dates are quite popular in the middle east diet. However the same is not true about United states as they do not have the option of picking dates from these palms. Barfi is the main ingredient of a typical dish in the middle east where it is usually fried in olive oil or served as a dessert. Middle east people prefer to use this date as a topping with raisins and almonds. However, in United states, coachella valley and other parts of California where it is grown mostly for consumption, butterscotch based dates are more preferred as they taste the same as almonds and cashews.
There are many places across the globe which are famous for producing these kinds of date palms. For example, Coachella Valley, California is famous for the production of about seventy varieties of Barhi. UAE produces about forty types of Barhi and so do states in north Africa including Morocco and Algeria. However, the real star is Kashmir which produces around twenty types of this sweet. In fact, the state has become a world leader in production of Barhi as many other states in north Africa as well as middle east are becoming famous for it.