Green Nuts

We Damascenes have a special love relation with green, sour and unripe nuts and fruits. Come April, hundreds of street vendors walk around the city pushing carts piled with Ouja (عوجة). Ouja are sour green almonds picked way before the flesh turns into the familiar wooden shell of almonds. The fruit is sour, crunchy with a furry skin. They are usually eaten dipped in salt. Sour and salty, perfect representation of Damascene taste.

Green pistachios are another firm favourite of people of Damascus. They come into season in last August, early September. Once again the city streets are full of sellers. In contrast to Ouja, green pistachios are not sold on carts. Instead sellers usually make temporary bases mainly around the roads leading to Al-Rabwa. The nuts come in a red soft shell once peeled a more familiar pistachio nut emerges. These are not sour but a rather soft and delicate version of the dried variety. If you decided to try these be warned they are extremely addictive. And after a long evening with a huge bowl of green pistachios you finger tips and nails will have a deep dark stain that might stay for a couple of days.


Unknown said...

Mmm yum. I need to try these!

Anonymous said...

fisto2 7alabi. ya3eni

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this - I have often wondered at the fuzzy green almonds.

tasteofbeirut said...

The addictive aspect is right! the fresh "halabi" pistachios were eaten ravenously by my daughter this summer!

Amanda said...

You have just reminded me of what my then best friend and used to do when we were 10 year old kids - we used to sit in her almond tree and eat the green nuts. Not normally done here in Australia where we wait for them to ripen. I had completely forgotten about this!

Pity said...

how nice, and yummy, cheers!

Anonymous said...

(I'm having blogspot comment issues, my apologies if this comes through four or five times)

Green almonds were such a surprise to me...I haven't really grown to love them, but I think green pistachios have a lot more potential. Do you think it is too late to find them?

Anonymous said...

hey, do u know "yahoodi msafer"? post something about that dish

Kano said...

I didn't know you call "halabi" in Lebanon. Well, I never thought about it!

I am glad I brought nice memories back to you.

Welcom back!

Welcom to my blog. I will have to admit green almonds could be too much if you are not into sour food.
Green pistachios are at the end of their season now. Finding them depend on what country in The Middle East you live in. I am not sure you can find them outside Syria and Lebanon.

It is on my list of things to do. If I have time!

Choclette said...

You've won me over on the pistachios, but not sure about the almonds. Green hazelnuts are rather a delicacy over here.

Unknown said...

I am following now.
I love this kind of recipes!
Delicious. Delicious.
I have a little blog of italian recipes.

Kano said...

You need to try the green almonds. If you love sour you will fall in love with them.

Thank you very much for the nice words. I took a quick look at your blog, looks delicious. I will go again properly.

Joanna said...

I found a walnut tree yesterday on the main road with walnuts falling on the ground in citrus scented green shells. I collected some and brought them home. They are very small, I have taken them out of their green outsides and left them to dry for a while.

Kano said...


We also eat green walnuts in Syria. I didn't include them in this post because I don't have pictures of them. We eat them slightly in a later stage to the one you described. We also eat green plums, we call it Janerek and green appricots which is not as popular.

Stevie said...

I've had the green almonds before. In fact there's an almond tree across the street from my apartment in San Francisco. Last spring we harvested some of them before the squirrels ate them all. They were wonderful in salad. I haven't tried any of the kinds but I'll look for them.

Zora said...

I've heard of pistachios served in Turkey where they're placed in a bowl with some alcohol, then lit on fire, so they briefly roast and pop out of their shells--I wonder if these are fresh ones they use?

Also, fascinating that the shells of fresh pistachios are red--I guess that explains why pistachios are often died red (here in the U.S. anyway).

Kano said...


Long time no see!

I like the sound of that pistachio and alcohol combo. Sounds very interesting.

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog.

I think using green almonds in salad is a great idea. We occasionally pickle them in Syria but not in salad.

Anonymous said...


ah les merveilleuses pistaches, je parle des pistaches iraniennes qui me manquent beaucoup.

Kano said...


Sorry I don't speak french!

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