Enjoy the ‘Queen of all Dates’ in Algeria
Cultivated for its deliciously sweet and nutritious fruit, the date palm is a familiar sight in Algeria, with desert oasis towns generally featuring large palm groves. There are many different varieties of dates, but the most prized of them all is the Deglet Nour, referred to as the ‘Queen of all dates’, which originated in Algeria. The name itself means ‘date of light’ or ‘translucent’, which well describes the light golden color of the fruit. The Deglet Nour date is one of Algeria’s top export products, and the municipality of Tolga, in the Biskra Province of Algeria, is home to more than half a million date palm trees, producing these high quality fruits.
Dates are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, making them an ideal snack as an energy booster. They are easily digested and are high in dietary fiber that protects the digestive system. Dates also contain a form of tannin which has anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties. They contain vitamin A, beta-carotene and lutein, all of which are antioxidants. Dates are high in essential minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, manganese and magnesium. The fruit of the date palm also has good levels of B-complex vitamins, particularly B6, as well as vitamin K.
In addition to being enjoyed as a snack on their own, dates are used in a wide variety of dishes and treats. They are usually pitted before going to market, and can be stuffed with all types of fillings, including nuts, candied citrus peel, tahini, cream cheese or marzipan. A special treat is mbarja, or bradj, – semolina cookies filled with dates. They can also form part of savory dishes and are often served with other fruit at the end of a meal.
Today, Deglet Nour dates are also grown in Tunisia, Libya and parts of the United States, but Algeria is still by far the largest producer of the Deglet Nour dates – and wherever else it is grown, it is generally acknowledged that the ‘Queen of all dates’ originated in Algeria.