Global hotel chain Kempinski’s supporting local farming and giving guests a taste of Bahrain-grown goodies
Time Out Bahrain staff
Global hotel chain Kempinski’s supporting local farming and giving guests a taste of Bahrain-grown goodies.
With the vast majority of our food here in Bahrain being imported, it’s easy to lose sight of how much Bahraini farmers are actually producing.
A trip to the extremely popular Saturday Farmers’ Market in Budaiya gives an indication of just how much good, fresh local produce is available and Kempinski Grand & Ixir Bahrain City Centre is one hotel that’s taking full advantage through a partnership with local producer Sadiq Farms in Karranah.
The arrangement came into being after executive chef Stefanos Melianos met owner Sadiq Mirza at the Farmers’ Market and he told us why he thinks using locally sourced produce is so important.
‘Due to globalisation all products are available all year round all over the world, which doesn’t mean those products are good. Sourcing locally-grown products has diverse benefits. For example, you know exactly where your food comes from, you can be sure it was not picked unripe or green weeks ago and then treated with different chemicals, shipped half way across the world to a sub-supplier before finally ending up on a supermarket shelf.
‘In addition, supporting the local community and economy is important, even us expatriates are a part of it. From a chef’s perspective, it is fantastic to have a direct relationship with the food producer; thoughts and ideas can be exchanged and shared without any middlemen.’
Farmer Sadiq Mirza added: ‘My home is in the green belt of Karranah and my family have been farmers for generations. I have been farming for the last 11 years, although I began going to the farm when I was a little boy. I’m extremely happy to supply my produce to the Kempinski Hotel as they have very high culinary standards, just like I have very high standards for my farming.’
Currently around half the fruit and vegetables coming out of the hotel’s kitchens are sourced daily from the farm in Karranah with plans to increase this volume in the future.
And though the produce is not organic, as the soil in Bahrain is lacking in certain minerals and is not ideal for all types of agriculture, only a minimal amount of fertiliser is used before the season starts.
Asked for some tips on using seasonal produce and what to look out for, chef Stefanos told us: ‘As far as creating seasonal recipes, it’s not really difficult. I’m lucky to have a very experienced culinary team, we work together, plan, innovate and share concepts which eventually turn into creative recipes where we utilise the season’s produce.
‘Bahrain does not have huge seasonal differences. Throughout the mild winter from November till January we receive jareer, pumpkin, papaya, spring onions, parsley, coriander and zucchini. From February till June we get a supply of capsicum, figs, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, aubergine, cucumbers and many more. During the hotter summer season from June to August we receive beautiful water melons, honey melon, herbs and some other items. We are working closely with our partner farmer, Mr Sadiq, to increase and maximise the produce throughout the year, for the benefit of both parties.’
Chef Stefanos’ soup from the farm
To combine most vegetables from the farm, one of my favourite recipes is a simple chilled cucumber and dill soup. It’s pure goodness on the plate, simple, but very tasty and easy to prepare.
Ingredients 8 pcs farm fresh cucumber, washed but not peeled, remove top and bottom and cut in cubes 250 g fresh plain natural yogurt 200 g sour cream 1 tbs white (grape) vinegar 1 pinch sea salt (to taste) 1 pinch ground white pepper 50 g chopped farm dill 50 g chopped farm parsley 50 g chopped farm coriander 50 ml olive oil Drops of tabasco (to taste)
Place all ingredients into a blender, mix until all combined smooth. Add salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste. Chill and serve cold, topped with some smoked salmon if so desired. Easy, delicious and healthy!