Kema or desert truffle

March 18, 2012  •  Category:


For those of you who recognized it, this is indeed a desert truffle or kema. In Lebanon, these are brought over from Syria. Lina Hamdan, board member of the Lebanese Association of Gastronomy was telling me that these erupt after a storm and lots of lightning. The desert floor cracks and the truffles pop up and are quickly snatched up by the Bedouin women who live nearby. At a grocery store in Beirut  these can fetch L.L. 60,000 a kilo (about $22 a pound). 

When I asked the greengrocer if I could use them for an omelette, he gave a look of disdain “eggs? you want to use eggs with these? MEAT, that’s what these are for”. 

Lebanese foodies buy them while they’re in season  in bulk (20 pound sacks); they get peeled and blanched and stored in the freezer in small bags and can last the rest of the year. Their season is very short.

In the US I found cans of these at the Middle-Eastern store but I thought they tasted bland.

It would be a thrill to spend a few days in the desert and forage them with the Bedouins don’t you agree?





15 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Angel of the North says:

    Desert truffle?

  2. Arlette says:

    Kamat… or Middle Eastern Truffle….
    a good one, where did you get it Joumana…
    its been a long time since I ate this

  3. Cooketteria says:

    Dried yellow beetroot?

  4. Rosa says:

    It looks like a desert truffle…



  5. Patricia Boustany says:

    Look’s like a some kind of potato; a would say it almost looks like a sweet potato.

  6. Astra Libris says:

    Is it a sunchoke/Jerusalem artichoke?

  7. deana says:

    No clue… but I am fascinated… can’t wait to see….

  8. Laura@Silkroadgourme says:

    Hi Joumana:

    Definitely looks like white truffles. And so many – have you come into an inheritance?


  9. Theresa Gebrail says:

    Looks like a Jerusalem artichoke.

  10. Miss Haddad says:

    Its called “Kamaa” its very popular in Iraq,slightly similar to mushroom tastes as I suppose it does belong to the same family!! Its not planted, just naturally grown, I found some tin of it here in London but was far too expensive!
    I like it but it has been very long since I ate it;

  11. Eha says:

    Am swimming in unknown territory, but have been comparing ‘google’ photos for a few minutes: I’ll go for ‘the middle eastern truffle’ [which may be the same as desert truffle?], as the latter seeems to have a much whiter/paler cut surface?

  12. linda says:

    this is truffle !

  13. Lasto Adri says:

    In Arabic is it called “Doom”..

  14. Nuts about food says:

    Had no idea until I read the comments. Still don’t know what they are however.