I was waiting for something like this for the series, “Guess what’s this” – something that I was seeing for the first time, so that I could share my sense of marvel and wonderment with you all. Ever since spring began this year, numerous shops selling this particular commodity had mushroomed in Kuwait – it was everywhere – in a separate stall in the Military Cooperative Society in Al Rai and in several road side shops that lined the route to Friday Market; some were sold from stocks in vans and a vast stretch near Friday Market with stalls in bright orange tarpaulin sheets, was allocated almost entirely for its sale! From far, the commodity looked just like potato. But at close quarters, the shape was somewhat different; unlike potato it was spongy or soft to touch – soft in the sense, it depressed a little when pressed, just like a ripe plum or kiwi would. It had a creamy white interior. But what startled me most was its price. A kilo ranged somewhere between 5-12 KD i.e., Rs.1000-2400 – now, this definitely cannot be some kind of potato. Though it was selling like hot cakes among natives, expats restricted themselves to curious glances at it.
Can you decipher what it is from the pic? Any guesses? Feed them in the comments.
On noticing the quizzical look on my face, one of the shop keepers asked me if I wanted to know what it was. When I replied in the affirmative, he was kind enough to brief me about it. If the picture did not help you decide what it is, may be the info he gave might. Here is what he said:
- The food stuff usually thrives in desert regions. Those in the shops were predominantly from Algeria and Syria;
- It flourishes in spring, when preceded by winter with frequent thundershowers accompanied by lightning (My addition here – lightning is believed to increase the nitrogen content of the atmosphere, that the rain brings down to the soil and promotes its growth);
- Foraging for it in the desert requires experience as it is shrouded by the sand. Bumpy spots in the sand are inspected to find it hidden beneath;
- It is one of the most expensive foods in the world (you already had your moment of shock on hearing its price, didn’t you?);
- Thorough cleaning is required to get rid of the sand clinging to its skin and that embedded in the cracks on its surface;
- It is cooked by boiling. The skin is peeled off and it is added to spicy rice preparations or curries;
- Canned versions of it are also available (Incidentally, I spotted canned versions of this product in just one or two shops. The label on the can showed a product that was in stark contrast to those I had seen till then. It had a dark skin. I think it was another variety with a dark exterior and pink interior).
Now there is this one last clue that is wholly mine – two words constitute its name – though it might have nothing to do with sweets, both parts of the name (first one, kind of, if we ignore the spelling and the second one, exactly) surprisingly flashed images of sweets in my mind ;-).
Try your luck at the guessing game. Well if you did not succeed at it, click here to navigate to an infographic about the mystery food.
Others In Guess What’s This Series: