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Bahrain

Add Colour And Nutrition To Your Food John Ridley advises eating fresh fruits and veggies and talks of the best markets in Bahrain.

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ruit and vegetable markets are truly exciting places, the hustle and bustle, the vibrant colours; the smells. Stalls are decorated with tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions and aubergines, and overflow with pomegranates, plantain, oranges, mangos and berries. Every nationality can be found buying or selling fruit and vegetables, imported from across the world for sale to Bahrain’s cosmopolitan residents, at the Central Market in Manama. Among the stalls lining the aisles there is always something to catch my attention, a new variety of fruit, fresh Indian zanjabil (root ginger), or competing aromas of nanaah (mint) and cardamon. Across the Middle East, in competition with the large traders, communities are establishing farmer’s markets, selling produce from local

growers. Errin, a manager at Organic Food and Café in Seef Mall showed me Bahrain’s farmers market - it’s a hidden gem in Budaiya. Errin is known across the Kingdom for innovative cuisine, so with a little persuasion and lift back to Manama, he agreed to let me use one of his recipes in this month’s column. From their stalls, Bahraini farmers sell seasonal produce; tomatoes, aubergines, wild rocket, peppers, fresh herbs, peas, cabbages and broccoli; availability changes day by day. With true Arabian hospitality, the traders make time to talk and let the inquisitive sample their produce, or even share a recipe - little tastes better than freshly picked fruit and vegetables transported just a few miles. Making our way from stall to stall, sampling the fruits, vegetables and dairy produce, Errin told me that many seem surprised by the agriculture in Bahrain. “People just don’t think of working farms in, or on the edge of the desert.” Fruit and vegetables are a colourful, tasty and nutritious addition to any meal. They provide

70 | Bahrain Confidential | January 2013

John R Ridley

it turns out. In your cooking, experiment with the increasingly available traditional grains and seeds, and you will discover a world of tastes and textures that were common in our diet until just one or two generations ago. Ingredients 50 g diced carrot 50 g diced celery 50 g roasted pumpkin seed 50 g dry cranberries Half shredded red apple 125 g quinoa 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock

iron and calcium, vitamin C and vitamins A and K1. But the body can only absorb the nutrients in vegetables if animal fat or olive oil is included within a meal. Fat, we are told, is bad for us, but this is a gross simplification, although processed fats such as those found in many cooking oils, biscuits and cakes should be avoided. Natural fats, found in eggs, meat, fish and cold pressed oils are essential for our wellbeing and aid nutrition. We have lived on animal fats for thousands of years, so go ahead, add a scoop of organic butter to your vegetables, not only is it essential for absorption of nutrients, they will taste even better. One of the most enjoyable ways to eat fruit and vegetables is in a salad, a wonderful fusion of colours, textures and tastes. Errin’s recipe is a quinoa and cranberry salad. Dressed with virgin olive oil, the body will absorb the vitamins in the fresh ingredients. Quinoa (for those of us “in the know” is pronounced “keen-wah”), it’s a seed, high in protein, iron and fibre with a slightly nutty taste and grainy texture. Practice the pronunciation and experiment with it in your cooking, you will soon come to love Quinoa.

Dressing Juice from half of one lemon 40 ml Sesame oil (or to taste) 300 ml Honey 25 ml olive oil ¼ tsp garlic salt

Method for Quinoa and Cranberry Salad 1. Roast the quinoa in a frying pan over a low heat until the seeds begin to turn brown. 2. Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan and add the roast quinoa, simmer until the seeds begin to separate and thicken. 3. Drain and spread the quinoa on a baking sheet leave until completely dry. 4. In a bowl, gently fluff the quinoa with a fork, and then thoroughly mix with the vegetables and dry ingredients. 5. Slowly add the dressing, carefully mixing continuously to prevent the honey settling. 6. Serve on a bed of mixed green leaves and garnish with cherry tomatoes and pomegranate seeds. If you try the salad, feel free to invite me to sample it, I can be at your dining table in less that thirty minutes!

Making a salad is rather like writing a good magazine article, use imagination, experiment, be creative, try fresh ingredients and see how

John Ridley is a Bahrain based writer, broadcaster and journalist who has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than thirty years. He can be contacted at john@johnridley.nu Visit www.ghostwriting.me

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