Desert Truffles الكمأة - الفقع - خلاسي - زبيدي

Desert truffles are an unusual desert crop related to European truffles, found in France and Italy. It can be found in North Africa from Morocco to Egypt, and in Syria, and Arabia.

Names and History

Its classical name is Kama' كمأ - كمأة but today is known as faqa' فقع or by the local variants zubaydi زبيدي -khalasi خلاسي in Arabia, to terfas in Egypt, and terfezia in Morocco.

They have been said to be served for Pharoahs, as well as Fatimid rules from the Muqattam mountain.

It has been known to Arabs for millenia, since the prophet is reported to have said: "Kama' is from manna, and its water is a cure for the [diseases of the] eye". 

Biology 

Being a fungus, it grows on the roots of Helianthemum (rock rose, Ragroog رقروق), at the end of winter. 

Rainfall is essential to its growth, but not much is required for a good crop.

A common misconception by the locals is that thunderclaps cause its growth, and the more of it, the merrier.

Prized delicacy 

Whereas European truffles cost as high as $1450 per kilo for the French variety and $2200 a kilo for the Italian one, desert truffles are more abundant and hence fetch lower prices, ranging from $80 to $270 per kilo, but can be as low as $27 per kilo (100 Saudi Riyals).

Cooking and recipes

Desert truffles are cooked in so many ways, ranging from boiling them in camel's milk, to frying them in butter. They can also be roasted in camp fires, and accompanying traditional rice dishes, such as kabsa.

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