Dates are rich in fibre; they ensure one doesn't get constipation and there is clear urination. It also has enough calories to satiate the peak of hunger after the fast ends.
Every sunset, during the holy month of Ramzan, fasts are broken with Iftar, whose menu traditionally comprises dates and other fruits washed down with water, milk and juice.
Chefs are now mashing up the traditional dry fruit into easy-to-make dessert to make iftars more special for family and friends.
Another chef Surjan Singh Jolly says he took inspiration from the Hyderabad-origin 'Qubani ka meetha' a dessert made from dried apricots to create the 'Khajoor ka meetha'.
"All you need to do is blend the dates with milk till it gets mushy and garnish it with chopped almonds to get this quick-to-make dessert," says Jolly.
Since the dates have a sludgy kind of a texture, it blends easily to be transformed into a dish.
Dates are good for health and are also sweet, so you need not add sugar. Hence, 'Khajoor ka meetha' can be a good addition to iftar parties, says the chef.
Dates are known to be a good source of fibre and since the ordinary eating pattern is restricted to two big meals during Ramzan, dates ensure one doesn't get constipation and there is clear urination. It also has enough calories to satiate the peak of hunger after the fast ends.
"Dates are also good source of iron that helps maintain haemoglobin, prevents giddiness, dark circles, loss of hair and strengthens immunity. So it is advisable," says Dr Vidhya R, a nutritionist.
Another delicious way to have dates is to warm it up with water, squish it with saffron and have it with bread or mush dates with white chocolate and have it, suggests Jolly.
The chef says that these date recipes are also convenient to prepare for those living in hostels and who miss home-cooked iftar food.
Seeing the popularity of dates among youngsters, markets are now customising it to blend in more flavours.
Date shops and stalls are found in abundance near Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk. These dates range from Rs 120 to Rs 1000, depending on the variety being bought.
"During our iftar and sehri walks, we take our guests to Khajoor factory where they get to taste chocolate dates, almond dates, apricot dates and other varieties. All these are from Middle East countries," says Anubhav of Delhi Food Walks who is currently organising Iftar Walk in Old Delhi.
For the last five years, Anubhav has been organising such walks during the month of Ramzan. The walks are organised on weekends for Rs 850 per person, which includes food.
"We have separate sehri and iftar walks. We assemble at Chawri Bazar for iftar walks and Chandni Chowk for sehri walks. We take our guests to various stalls and eateries and let them relish the delicacies of Ramzan," says Anubhav.
Dates are even preferable for diabetic 'rozedaars', says Dr A K Jhingan, Diabetologist at Primis Hospital here.
"Diabetics tend to lose five to eight kilograms of weight during Ramzan. So we try to divide the medicine and alter it to benefit the people keeping fasts. Besides that, breaking fasts with dates, having plenty of vegetables and fruits and avoiding spicy or fried food helps," says Jhingan.
Mohammad Rafi, a 62-year-old diabetic says he has been keeping fasts like this since twenty years.
"I take my medicine before sehri and avoid sweet things like any other normal day. I take more of fruits and dates during iftar which fills my stomach," says Rafi.
Photograph: Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters
Image: A vendor selling dates on a pick-up truck waits for customers during the annual dates festival in Berida of the Saudi central province of Qassim.