How to Navigate a Dubai Farmers’ Market Like a True Foodie

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Photo: Courtesy of @NoreenWasti

The farmers’ market has become a hot trend these days. Flocking to your local market on a weekend to hunt for organic produce and ingredients has quickly become the cool way to spend a Friday in Dubai. The truth is, buying seasonal produce directly from farmers has been an age-old tradition in agrarian societies. In Dubai, we’ve forgotten how to eat seasonally as our supermarkets are full of perfect produce. But this is quickly changing. The Farmers’ Market on the Terrace began in 2010 with just four stalls selling produce on the terrace of Baker & Spice in Souq Al Bahar. Since then, things have changed. The market is now in its seventh season and has been spearheaded by its creator Yael Mejia (food consultant for Baker & Spice), who has revolutionized the field for eating organic, local, and seasonal in the UAE.

The Farmers’ Market on the Terrace is the only authentic farmers’ market in Dubai as there is no middleman. You purchase produce directly from the farmers who have grown and cultivated their own crops. All income generated goes to the farmers and they do not pay to participate, therefore prices are kept affordable for everyone. It’s sustainable and as authentic as it can get. All produce at the market is locally grown and certified organic, so you can be rest assured of the integrity of everything you purchase.

How to Browse the Market

1. Before leaving, always prepare a list of what you need for the week; it will help with being organized once you reach the market.

2. Try and get there as early as possible. Even though the market goes on till 1:00 p.m., a lot of the good produce sells out quickly.

3. There are 11 farm stalls and nine local food/pantry vendors at the market each Friday. Start with doing a walk-through of each stall. See what’s on display and what looks fresh. Every week, it varies and as the temperatures drop further you will notice how the produce changes and more varieties become available.

4. Try to avoid buying everything from one stall; everyone at the market is there for a fair chance so make your way through the stalls picking up one or two items at each one. Bring along wooden crates or tote bags from home instead of using plastic.

What to Look Out For

Herbs: The herbs are lush and full of fragrance at the market. Pick up parsley, coriander, and basil for garnishing throughout the week.

Zucchinis/Courgettes: There is always a wide variety of zucchinis and courgettes available, in all different shapes and colors. Look out for the flowers, which are lovely for stuffing.

Tomatoes: As temperatures cool down further, the tomatoes are more abundant. Don’t miss the gorgeous, oddly-shaped heirlooms that are so sweet on their own with just a sprinkle of salt.

Sweet Melons: These are usually smaller than what you see at the supermarket, but they pack a ton of sweetness — perfect for salads or a snack.

Kale: It’s the ingredient of the decade, plus it’s half the price of the grocery store.

Eggs: They’re organic and come in all different sizes. Each yolk is a different shade of orange and yellow (a sign of happy chickens). If you get there early enough, you may be able to get your hands on some quail eggs as well.

MicrogreensLittle Leaves grows a wide variety of microgreens including micro cress, rocket, and edible flowers. They are beautiful for finishing your dishes.

DS Organic Mooneh Essentials: Dima Sharif is a Palestinian chef and writer who has created a line of organic pantry items including spices, pickles, and olive oil. The zaatar is absolutely unbelievable and a must-buy at the market. Dima herself is there every Friday with plenty of tasters available. You won’t buy any other zaatar again, plus the leaves have been handpicked, dried, and mixed by Palestinian women living in the refugee camps of Jordan and all the proceeds go to them.

Baker & Spice: Don’t forget to pick up a loaf of sourdough or their special ka’ak bread.

Balqees Honey: This Yemeni honey is as good as it gets. It’s completely raw and hasn’t been broken down by pasteurization. There are plenty of samples for you to taste what suits you best. They work wonderfully on your breakfast porridge or in salad dressings.

Lastly, once you finish your shopping, unwind on one of the picnic tables under the sun with a green juice and an egg sandwich from the Baker & Spice stall. It’s the perfect way to spend your Friday morning.

The Farmers’ Market on the Terrace is located at Bay Avenue at Business Bay, and takes place every Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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