Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Garden Veg Tagine & My 'Thing' for Markets

I have a thing for markets- the chaotic,  not-very-tidy types. Head to Dubai Vegetable & Fruit Market in Ras-Al-Khor and you'll know what I mean. The first thing that hits you is that it's a men's world. The only women you see around are a couple of Arab ladies who look like they know how to hold their own over the vendors. And a few tourists who have stranded off the main trail in search of something more exotic and organic than Dubai's standard malls. The market is also a piece of Dubai's history, preserving a sense of continuity in a city where everything from trees to homes feel newly sprouted. 



While not exactly exotic, the market is full of character and characters- Bengali shopkeepers and Pakistani truck drivers, tea boys and wheel barrow boys, loaders,  cleaners, junk collectors and footpath salesmen who will sell you a pack of peaches for as cheap as 5 Dhs and unload a box of melon into your car boot (because the fruit are so sweet you cannot possibly leave it behind). The hard sell techniques may amuse you or leave you foaming at the mouth. I was trained to take a light view of these in the markets of Karachi.




My best buy are oranges so small, they almost seem to be quivering inside the crate. They are a sight and I know the girls will love them. I pick up some well-priced and good quality pomegranates, grapes, strawberries, squash, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, garlic and aubergines too. But not everything I buy is satisfactory. The okra turns out to be tough and stringy and the half the tomatoes are in various stages of rotting. The carrots have a hard bitter core.

I have bought more stuff than I needed and I know just the perfect dish for the beautiful variety of vegetables in season. Earlier this year, I visited the city of Fez in Morocco. In a Riad inside the walls of the medieval medina, I spent a day with Chef Lahcen learning how to cook a Vegetable Tagine and Moroccan starters such as Zaalouk and Tektouka. The tagine is my favourite because it uses a variety of seasonal vegetables and is extremely simple to put together. 

A layering of vegetables, simmered in their own juices and olive oil, fragrant with saffron and paprika and preferably steamed tender in the clay utensil that is used throughout North Africa. You can also use a flat-bottomed deep-ish skillet with a tight-fitting lid.































I am looking forward to your thoughts and comments!

Photos of old Dubai taken from the blog Life in Dubai . Thank you!

15 comments:

  1. I've never braved the veg market - but must do soon. Will make this tonight I think.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the old style chaotic bazaar type markets... so much more character than staid supermarket ones so devoid of the human touch. i loved your photos of old dubai... so far removed from what we know as dubai now. loving that pot of tagine.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Sally and Rajani- the market is not for the faint-hearted but I love the eye-popping colours and the haggling- that too is an art :)!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I need to go to this Ras Al Khor market, been on my list of things to do! Love that you made a tagine, one of my fav dishes :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I´ve been to the fish market....and love it!!We should organize a trip to this market for FIA!

    By the way, your pictures are getting better and better!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beautiful pictures Shumaila, I have never visited the vegetable market, it must be really buzzing. The tagine looks so lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Arva, Marta and Raji- this tagine really is yummy...give it a try with all the beautiful veg in season now....

    I am trying with the photos:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. In love with that Tajine and your photography,Shumaila.Visited the vegetable market once and since the prices were more than what I'd pay for fresh veggies and fruits everyday from the local grocery store,I stopped visiting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Farwin...while i found the prices to be reasonable some of the products were lacking in quality so yes i definitely wouldn't be shopping here on a regular basis...but the atmosphere is like a magnet to me:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love your style of writing. You're a breath of fresh, homegrown, mint-infused air!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Best of Dubai....are you a blogger as well?

    ReplyDelete
  12. everything looks fabulous the pictures, the tagine and the write up!
    you are right half the veggies we buy turns out rotten especially here in Pak.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I must say it is nice and informative share i must say share some information for Dubai Desert Safari

    ReplyDelete
  14. Desert Safari Dubai Great place where you can enjoy your trip of Dubai.

    ReplyDelete