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What’s in season in the UAE? October guide

November 7, 2017
Whats in season in the UAE in October

My market haul from 13th October 2017 – the first day of the new season

I do most of my weekly shop during the growing season by buying my organic vegetables direct from local farmers. Browsing each stall to see who has what, choosing the best, trying to buy a little from as many farmers as possible, striking up a conversation with the growers and other shoppers, makes the whole process a joy. Then there’s the scent of the vegetables (it’s mainly veg – just a tiny bit of local fruit), buying roots with leaves rather than a trimmed down anonymous looking balls, it’s knowing that everything was picked just a few hours earlier.

Cooking is different too – it’s helped me to be more intuitive, adaptable and adventurous in the kitchen. Cook books are there for inspiration not prescription.

The Farmers’ Market, here in Dubai, started a good six weeks earlier this year. It’s down to an increase in the number of farms growing organic produce, even though the range is a little more limited, the volume was enough to set up stalls (the temperatures were a little steamy to say the least!).

So I’ve put together a monthly guide to what’s available. It will become a memory jogger in the fallow months about what’s up coming and when. Plus I can collect together recipe suggestions to help us all when inspiration gets a little thin – including LOTS of courgette recipes!

Whats in season in the UAE in October

Restrained market shopping due to travel. My basket from 27th October 2017

During the early days of my blog (in 2010 can you believe?) I used to look longingly at people who were doing seasonal round-ups in their part of the world. I never imagined that it would be possible here in the United Arab Emirates.

My research for this guide has been based on the organic, local produce available at The Farmers’ Market on the Terrace in 2017 (and into 2018).  You may also find some additional or different things at Greenheart as they collect seed to grow their own varieties of vegetables. For a preview, you can see what I bought for a whole season during 2014 to 2015 on this post.

Farming in the desert has immense challenges and seasonal often means protecting things from nature as well as working in harmony. Being able to buy organic produce that has been picked a few hours before is a huge privilege. If you are reading this from another part of the world you might be surprised at what is grown and pick up some ideas for your own local produce too.

Vegetables and fruit in season in the UAE during October

Click on an image to enlarge and browse the gallery. All taken during October 2017.

Vegetables in bold link to recipes

  • Amaranth – used throughout Asia and parts of Africa, good for stir frying
  • Aubergine – or eggplant. Not abundant during this month and only purple available.
  • Basil – strongly scented variety with thick stalks
  • Beetroot – the first beetroot of the month has tough skin, not abundant
  • Broccoli – very little broccoli available and fairly dry in texture (wait until November)
  • Butternut squash – beautiful butternut squash with very fragrant, sweet flesh available
  • Chillies – from small, round and green to a few long and red. Chillies are abundant and fiery
  • Chinese red spinach – you may spot this variety of spinach with attractive red splashes on the leaves
  • Coriander – fresh coriander is abundant by the end of the month
  • Courgette – available in small green, long yellow, dark green (probably a variety of summer squash rather than a true courgette) and round yellow and green which are great for stuffing. Also called kousa
  • Cucumber – two different types available, one with a speckled thick peel and juicy pale flesh
  • Dates – dried dates from the farms are on many stalls
  • Dill – bunches of leafy dill are there from the beginning. Good for pickling seasoning
  • Fenugreek – such pretty leaves, good in curries (also known as methi)
  • Kale – starts to become more abundant by the end of the month
  • Limes – small limes are more like lemons in taste. Not overly juicy but very fresh tasting
  • Melon – orange and white fleshed melons available. Not extremely sweet but refreshing. Good with a touch of raw honey (from the Balqees stall)
  • Mint – vigorous and fragrant from the first market. Stems can be tough at this time of year
  • Moringa – leafy branches on some stalls, fresh and green (used in curries)
  • Molokhia – very seasonal, it disappears by November. Used a bit like spinach and adored by many for its slimy quality when cooked.
  • Okra – green okra available
  • Oranges – a few local ones on the stalls, green peel mainly
  • Parsley – local flat leafed variety fairly abundant
  • Peppers – a few green and the odd red one. Not peak season
  • Pumpkin – one or two stalls had green skinned, sizeable pumpkins
  • Radish – good crunchy peppery bunches on several stalls
  • Rocket/ Roka (salad or garden rocket, arugula, rucola, gerger) – the flat-leaved, salad-type is abundant
  • Spinach – very similar in look to the rocket. Make sure you ask the farmer or look for pointy leaves
  • Spring onions – a couple of stalls have nice, fresh crunchy bunches
  • Sweetcorn – a few make an appearance in the last week in October
  • Sweet potato – a few early ones both pink and white on one or two stalls
  • Tarragon – a few stalls have beautiful bunches throughout the month
  • Tomatoes – a scant few with little flavour in October
  • Watermelon – not particularly sweet but refreshing
  • Wild rocket – one or two stalls have this but it’s a bit wiry at this time of year

My Arabian Almanakh

Another thing I brought home from the market was a beautiful gardening resource and planner, My Arabian Almanakh. It acts as a guide to the unique growing conditions in this country and wider region,  and has a wealth of tips and information to help people work with nature to grow a whole range of edible plants. There are spaces for notes and planting records for every month plus a guide to each season. There are delightful illustrations throughout. Whether you have a window box or a large patch this is a resource to treasure and will act as a record for years. The people behind it are Laura Allais Maré who founded Slow Food Dubai, Cherida Fernandez who illustrated the book, Leilani Coughlan and Prachiti Talathi Gandhi. Their ethos is to work with nature, not against it, and they published the book to teach and share knowledge about regenerative gardening.

Available at the market – more info on My Arabian Almanakh Facebook page

Whats In Season in UAE in October

Delighted to be quoted in The National in their article about markets in Dubai.

Do let me know if you found this useful. If you shopped locally this month, what were the highlights and what did you cook with it?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2017 10:25 pm

    There is the teeniest, tiniest chance Pete and I could be doing a contract period in Dubai, but could take up to a year before any decisions are made. The corporate world can be so complicated some days…
    This is inspiring at the thought of the opportunity, should it come to pass.
    Have a glorious week.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  2. November 8, 2017 3:22 pm

    I’m doing something similar for Germany – great minds 😀 I am SO envious you have aubergines, and also that you’re in courgette season – I missed it (and the tomatoes) this year and suddenly have all sorts of courgette recipes I’m desperate to try. Stashing them away for next summer…

  3. November 9, 2017 1:23 am

    Fantastic post Sally – it amazes me that such a variety of fresh produce comes from a dessert region!

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