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Harmattan: Seasonal Foods, Interesting Facts & Tips

by on January 30, 2015
 

Harmattan – the season of dry and dusty, of conjunctivitis and freshly pressed mosquitoes (is this just at my end?) Of orange fruit and vegetables – carrots, agbalumo, oranges and tangerines.

This season past, I noticed a few things – the regular fruits on display, but a little bit more as well…Read on.

In Season: Agbalumo

It’s late December and we’re driving round Lagos on a Sunday. The children and a friend of theirs, Alex have spent the afternoon painting at The Social Place.

It’s only a little cold, and I haven’t fully welcomed the Sahara and its dunes into my living room when it rains – one short burst of rain. Alex and I have been talking about Agbalumo – her brothers are coming home and are looking forward to some.

And then, it rains again. When I express my surprise about ‘Rain in December’, Alex responds ‘there are always a few rains before ‘Agbalumo’ proper comes into season. Hmmm, I didn’t know that. And it appears to be true as I’ve heard so many people welcome the rains, with ‘Yay, the Agbalumo will now be sweet’.

They remind me of loquats and I have plans of making cordial, vinegar and other liquids of them. We shall see. In the interim, enjoy the recipe suggestion below.

Recipe:  Agbalumo ice cream cake from Funke Koleosho’s Food Blog

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In Season: Limes

This season’s limes are beautiful – fragrant, and some shaped like lemons even. I’ve also found out that everywhere, they have doubled in price. As in doubled.

Everywhere – from my local supermarket, Ebeano to the fruit market I visit under the bridge.

Still, I find myself lost in their heady scents. Thanks to the low humidity this season, the fragrance travels. So when I begin the descent from the top floor of my terrace house, walking downstairs, the sweet, clean, fresh scents hit me hard.

Recipe: Make a Mojito mocktail of Apple juice, with muddled mint and lime juice or go the whole hog and top with the finest Calvados you can lay your hands on. And a lick of salt.

More ideas: Read my post on 30 Things to do with Limes

How to juice a lime

In Season: Carrots

The freshest, juiciest variety this season are on a wheelbarrow. Guaranteed.

Not much else to say but ‘eat ’em, make salads with toasted cumin seeds, tossed with cilantro/ coriander, bake ’em into nice cakes, topped with cream cheese frosting and you know, make some delish smoothies

Recipe: Carrot, Ginger & Papaya smoothie

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Storage Tip: Wrapping Fruits and Vegetables

Some soft fruits and vegetables tend to ‘dry’ out – the ‘harmattan’ sucks all the moisture out of them. You’ll find some of them, particularly the small ones like limes tied up in bags.

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Tip: Drying Herbs & Peeling Garlic

This is the perfect season for drying herbs without the sun or oven. I’ve unwittingly dried lots of mint this way :), which isn’t a bad thing.

There are a few recipes where dried mint is preferable to fresh.

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Recipe: Chia-Mint-Yogurt Dip on food52.com

I also find it is incredibly easy for me to peel garlic. The skins don’t quite snap, like the cloves within them but they give way, don’t cleave as closely to the cloves as before. And so there is no anxiety about using loads of garlic this season.

I really should make Toum…. or some ginger & garlic paste while the cold is here.

Recipe: Ginger & Garlic Paste

So ladies and gentlemen, these are my Harmattan observations and though it’s pretty much gone…preserve the recipes for December to come.

What are yours? Any peculiar ‘cold season’ observations at your end?