In the month of Ramzan, dry fruit markets get flooded with a variety of dates from Iraq, Iran Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Tunisia, Israel and Algeria. But the Ajwa dates from Saudi Arabia rule the roost. Dates are used by Muslims to break fast during this holy month.
With its prices hovering around Rs2,000 a kg, Ajwa dates are by far the most expensive variant in the market. "They are known to be the dates from the paradise. So the price is of no consequence for the pious," said Abdul Gani, a trader from APMC Vashi.
"Prophet Muhammad said that one who takes seven Ajwa dates in the morning will be unharmed by black magic and poison till the end of the day. This fruit is also known to be our Prophet's favourite," says Shahjahan Mistry, a Vashi resident.
According to Nerul resident Halima Parkar, Ajwa dates are believed to possess healing powers. They say the Prophet has mentioned this in the Hadith – the body of tradition and legend about Muhammad and his followers, used as a basis of Islamic law.
Trader Gani says Ajwa dates are soft and have a fine texture. "They are smaller in size and have white lines on the surface. These are the features that will help you pick the right Ajwa date."
This fruit of the arid land is sun-dried and are also known as wet dates. "Inspite of being highly priced, Muslims buy Ajwa during Ramzan for its religious significance," says Bunty Bajaj another trader.
People also buy Ajwa for gifting purposes. Ajwa dates are available in fancy packaging; some are even coated with chocolate, honey and dry fruit powder. These confectioneries range up to Rs 3600 a kilo.
Medjool that is known to be the 'king of dates' these are available in impressive sizes. They rank second in the price range of Rs1000 to Rs1200 a kg.