Monday, November 21, 2011

Season For Indian Dates-Jujubes

It is winter time here in India. We South Indians are lucky to have a pleasant climate this time of the year, though day times are hot enough. This is the season for many fruits and vegetables through out India. So we enjoy them.

One of the berries unique to India is Indian Date. It is also know as Chinese Date, Korean Date or Red Date. This is Botanically known as Ziziphus Jujube. It is known as Ber in Hindi, Regi Pallu in Telugu and Badarika Phalam in Sanskrit. 

This is the Bigger variety used as a snack-known as Seema regi or Ganga Regi in Telugu

The fruits are rich in Vitamin 'C' and contain, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. 

It is grown from  the regions of Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Korea. 

The tree is a medium sized one, bushy with thorns on its bark, small oval shaped thick leaves. It grows well in hot climates and desserts or semi arid to arid regions. It can tolerate cold climates too.

The fruit is available in the winter months of October to February and are green when raw and turn to red/dark maroon when they ripe. The fruit are sour when half ripe and when fully ripe taste sweet and sour. 

Religious Significance: 

The tree is associated with Lord Shiva. Its fruit are offered to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivaratri. The crispies made out of these fruits along with other ingredients are also offered to Lord Ganesha on Vinayaka Chaturthi.

There is also the story of Sabari. Sabari was a tribal woman very pious and was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. She comes to know that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama will visit her. She continues her prayers and devotion just hoping for that visit of the Lord. She grows old but lives just with the hope of seeing the Lord. When Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana visit her, she is so old that she can hardly lift her head to see them. her eye sight becomes very poor. She does not have any thing to offer to lord except for Jujube fruits. She bites into each fruit to check whether it is sweet or not and then offers it to Lord. It is considered sin to offer food tasted by us to any one else especially to God. But Lord happily eats them all, showing that God loves HIS devotees, blesses her, gives her Moksha (liberation of soul from the birth and death cycles) and her soul reaches the Lord. 
The tree is also considered sacred by the Sikh community. The Golden temple in Amritsar has a ‘Ber’ tree called the ‘Beri Sahib’ in its central courtyard, which is worshipped.

Medicinal Value:

The leaves, fruit and the bark have been used for ages in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as well as Chinese and Korean traditional medicine. It has anti fungal, anti bacterial, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, antioxidant properties. It has also got the properties of stress reliever, sedative, can be used as contraceptive, fight obesity etc.

The tree makes a good hedge or fence because of its thorny stems. Its leaves are used as fodder. Its wood is also used for making bowls, agricultural implements and is useful for wood carvings.

This is the most popular variety used as a snack and for recipes.


The fruit (fresh ones) are a great hit with children and grown ups. It is eaten as a snack with salt and chilly powder. 

Jujube based drinks are available in some countries. Dried and fresh fruits, canned fruits, tea made from berries, honey from the berries, extract or syrup of fruits are used in many countries. They are used in many dishes. Pickles, candies, desserts are made from these fruits. 

There may be many varieties of this fruit. But in India, I have come across three varieties. One is a big oval shaped fruit, green and orange or even golden yellow in colour, crunchy to eat and with a sweet taste. These are called Seema Regi or Ganga Regi and used as a snack only. The second is medium sized, sweet and sour fleshy fruit known as Regi Pallu or Ber, which is most commonly used as a snack and for culinary purposes. The third are very small pea sized ones which are dark red or sometimes black in colour with almost no flesh and taste mildly sweet and sour. These are from dessert areas of Rajasthan and hence we call them as Rajasthani Ber. These are almost dry and don't have any flesh inside.These are are used for snacking.

One can eat them in moderation. Excessive usage may give, coughs, colds and sour throat apart from acidity problems. But then who can resist these sweet and sour berries. Children and women go for it with no holds barred...:) :).

Watch out for recipes on Jujube....

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