moroccan harrira soup

spicy harrira stew
This is a version of a soup recipe from Claudia Roden, traditionally prepared during Ramadan and eaten to break the fast. Apparently, the streets of Morocco are perfumed at sunset with thousands of different versions of this fragrant soup. 
While this version of the soup is vegetarian, you can include meat, such as lamb or beef. It is not a soup that is restricted to Ramadan across the Muslim world; it is also served at special celebrations, and why not? It is deliciously satisfying.

chicken stew with dried limes

I cooked a Persian banquet for friends recently and used dried limes for the first time. (I say "banquet" which sounds terribly sumptuous and as far away from my Victorian cottage in shabby north London as the magic of the ancient Silk Routes or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon can be . . . although saffron and pomegranates were involved). Anyway, the dried limes were a complete revelation and I have to thank John Willoughby in the NY Times for the inspiration. He wrote "Holding one to your nose is a bit like sniffing freshly grated lime rind while standing in the center of a brewery" . . . utterly glorious. I was powerless to resist their  lure.

what's in season: november

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, - November!
Thomas Hood

Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils
Cyril Connolly

Sadly, my favourite tender vegetable crops are disappearing as the first frosts appear in November, although it is still a good month for hardier veg such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, parsnips, potatoes and sprouts as well as traditional fruits such as apples, pears and quinces. However, this is the month that game really comes into its own, so it's not all doom and gloom.