By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: As the truffle season comes to an end, demand for the fungus is increasing for the Ramadan table. Desert truffles have a knack for being a tad elusive, perhaps that is why they are a favorite of Kuwaitis, and a great ingredient in Ramadan dishes. This year, the market is reportedly flooded with truffles from Iran and Libya. Kuwait Times met some truffles vendors and buyers to learn more about the truffle season this year.
Mohammad Al-Mnekher, who has bought and sold truffles for more than 15 years, told Kuwait Times the truffle season started late this year. “Usually, the truffle season starts in mid-November, but this year it started in mid-February due to a lack of rain, which was behind the scarcity of truffles,” he said. “Truffles that are available in the Kuwaiti market are imported from Iran, Libya and Iraq, and this year we got them from Syria. The Iranian truffles will last till the end of Ramadan,” he said of his truffle selection. Prices range from KD 7 to KD 30 per kilogram depending on their quality and size, according to Mnekher.
Speaking to Kuwait Times, Yasser Al-Masri affirmed that prices have dropped significantly as the season ends, noting prices range from KD 5 to KD 30 per kilo after reaching KD 70 a few months ago. Masri, who has been selling truffles for years, said due to the small size of ??Kuwait, truffles are rarely found in the country. Most of the truffles in the market are imported from neighboring countries, he added, pointing out that several factors had led to an increase in prices, including high shipping costs.
Vendor Ali Al-Jabali agreed with Masri. “The increase in shipping costs increased the prices of truffles in the Kuwaiti market. Most of the truffles in the market are imported from outside Kuwait. Iranian truffles are available at a reasonable price, but it is snowing now in Iran, so we expect more truffles to come and more drops in prices in the coming days. I believe the truffle season will last for more months this year,” he said.
Early in the morning, a truffle auction is held. On Sunday, 17 kg of medium-sized Iranian truffles sold for KD 9.5, while another box of mixed sizes was sold for 8 KD. Customer Mishaal Al-Ali said prices are reasonable at the end of the truffle seasons, adding the zubaidi truffle is the finest and the most expensive truffle in the market. “Every season I buy truffles from Al-Rai market because it offers different sizes. I choose them carefully for my family’s Ramadan table,” he added.
Another buyer, Um Mohammad, said she loves truffles and buys the smaller-sized fungi. She noted truffles are used in cooking machboos and pasta. She added she prefers Kuwaiti truffles, lamenting that only Iranian and Iraqi truffles are available at the market. Fresh truffles are only available from November to April in Kuwait, but some vendors sell a dried and frozen variation of the delicacy during the scorching summer months in a bid to meet their customers’ cravings all year round.