The popular culinary delicacy that appears in the markets after thunderstorms is back. The treasured desert truffles locally known as Fagga are sold for hundreds of riyals in the Omani Souq and as such many people these days occupy themselves with the business of seeking them and selling them.
Fagga is renowned for its nutritional and medicinal values and according to informed sources vendors at the Omani Souq are selling Fagga like hot cakes.
Even though Fagga that grows in Qatar is yet to make it to the markets, people are still keen to buy the imported varieties of the item from the markets.
“We keep both brown and white Fagga, both are selling very briskly. The ones we are currently selling are imported from Algeria,” said a Fagga vendor at the Omani Souq.
Dessert truffles very expensive because of their rare nature and are highly sought after. Fagga appear as wrinkled and gnarled potatoes, that is however, the deceptive-part of their aura. Fagga is consumed and cooked in many ways such as raw in salads, boiled in milk, sautéed in butter, roasted in campfires, or as stuffing or stew.
“Fagga began to be sold in the markets immediately after the rains and on the first day we sold for QR1, 200 per box. Now, the a box of 1-2kg of brown Fagga is sold for QR450 but the white one is costlier and costs QR1,000 per box. Customers, mainly the Arabs, choose Fagga based on the appearance. The local products generally are more expensive and the best ones may be sold at rates of up to QR3, 000 a kilogramme,” the vendor added.
The white truffles are locally known as Zubaidi belong to the genus Tirmania. Zubaidi are usually in greater demand, compared to the brown which are called Ikhlasi, belonging to the genus Terfezia. Truffles grow a few inches below the ground near the roots of plants from which it takes nutrients. In Qatar, their favoured host plant is the desert sunflower.
It is widely believed that Faggas are created by the lightning from November thunderstorms in the desert. Finding Fagga needs knowledge of the topography and the conditions in which they grow. Research is still being conducted to find a method of producing fagga on a large commercial scale. Fagga is used in traditional medicines for treating joint pains and is also known to be an aphrodisiac.
“Native Qatari Fagga are expected to arrive in the markets by the end of the month or in March. Qatari Fagga tend to be more expensive than the imported ones and can go for as high as QR2000 per kilo,” said another vendor.