There are three seasons in Bahrain: hot, hotter and unbearable
Time Out Bahrain staff
There are three seasons in Bahrain: hot, hotter and unbearable. In such a climate, it might be odd to think about eating in season – since almost all food is imported into Bahrain, how can one actually demark any real seasonal cuisine? The fact is, while food seasons might not be quite so relevant in a country where it is hot all year round, the food you are eating is likely to be grown in a country that is completely seasonal, meaning if you are eating out of season, you are likely to be eating something that has either travelled half way around the world to be on your plate, or has spent the last six months of its life in nutrient-draining cold storage. At Time Out Bahrain, if we eat an apple, we want to get an apple’s worth of vitamins, minerals, fibre and flavour and we guessed you did too, which is why we decided to give you some pointers on what is good to eat and when.
January is traditionally the time when fresh produce is relatively scarce as it is between planting seasons in the tropics, while the ground is frozen solid in the north. Hardy root vegetables and seafood make up a lot of the seasonal diet, along with the occasional game meat and some tough leafy plants. Beetroot, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chard, Guinea fowl, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mussels, oranges, oysters, parsnips, red cabbage, swede, venison, walnuts.
February follows in much the same vein as January, but with some slightly more delicate leafy vegetables and that tart European dessert staple, rhubarb. Cauliflower, cabbage, chicory, Guinea fowl, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mussels, oranges, oysters, parsnips, rhubarb, swede, venison.
March is when the cuisine starts to feel distinctly spring-like. Fresher flavours with some seasonally migrating fish like salmon, means you can shed a lot of that heavy winter food in favour of lighter salad material. Carrots, cauliflowers, leeks mussels, oranges, oysters, parsley, salmon, spring onions, rhubarb.
If April were a dish, it would be a crab salad delicately flavoured with young fresh herbs. This is the month of tender vegetables, when either new growth of perennials of fast growing annuals make an appearance at the dinner table. Crab, mussels, new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rosemary, salmon, sea trout, spinach, spring onions, watercress.
May is very much a continuation of April, with the same delicate leaves and emphasis on seafood. One notable addition is asparagus, which is definitely the best at this month of the year. Asparagus, crab, new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, salmon, sea bass, sea trout, spinach, watercress.
Now into the full thrust of summer, the fresh vegetable markets are alive with summer produce. This is when summer berries start to make an appearance. Asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, carrots, cherries, crab, fennel, globe artichokes, gooseberries, herring, lamb, mackerel, mint, peas, radishes, rocket, salmon, sea bass, sea trout, spring onions, strawberries, turnips, watercress.
The height of summer is also the height of the summer fruit season, with berries galore pouring in from Europe to brighten up those summer fruit salads. Some of the slower growing vegetables planted in spring are starting to flourish, such as broccoli. Aubergine, broccoli, cherries, cucumber, cauliflower, peas, raspberries, redcurrants, sage, strawberries, watercress.
August’s big news is tomatoes, and lots of them. This is also when the harvest of blackberries starts to get picked, and when the next crop of spring-sown root vegetables start to enter the shops. Aubergine, basil, beetroot, blackberries, crab, fennel, lettuce, peaches, peppers, redcurrants, tomatoes,
September is all about a windfall of autumnal fruits, with crumbles and fruit pies coming back into fashion. Game is back on, along with squid (though not together!). Apples, blackberries, blueberries, cucumber, plums, figs, Guinea fowl, pears, rocket, squid, sweetcorn, venison.
October landscapes are woodlands, every inch. Nuts, fungi and late ripening fruit make this food worth foraging for. Beetroot, figs, hazelnuts, lamb, mushrooms, oysters, sweetcorn, walnuts, watercress.
November is when the winter vegetables start to take over, heavy, hearty and packed with minerals to ward off winter colds. This is he seasons for soups, stews and casseroles. Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, chard, chestnuts, cranberries, Jerusalem artichoke, mushrooms, parsnip, pomegranate, pumpkin, shallots.
The winter in Bahrain might not be particularly cold, but if you want your dinner table to look more winter-like than the weather, then the food to choose this month are hardy greens, late-ripening fruit and game. Apples, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chestnuts, chicory, cranberries, kale, leeks, mussels, oranges, pomegranate, venison, walnuts.
The best place in Bahrain to get fresh produce is Central Market, which is cheap as chips and totally fresh.