Transform your dishes with dried limes for mouth-watering flavour.
Use dried limes to add delicious citrus, smokey, earthy tartness to your dishes.
Adding this simple ingredient will really lift the flavours of a dish, adding complex flavours like this kabsa.
Dried limes are a popular ingredient in the cuisines of the Gulf States, Iraq, Iran as well as parts of India.
They are added to dishes to give a unique and distinct flavour which is slightly astringent, rich, fermented and citrusy. It is used for dishes with meat, chicken, fish, vegetable, lentil and rice.
Depending where you are in the world, dried limes are also known as loomi, Omani limes or Persian limes.
There are two varieties of dried limes – brown or black. Preparation for both begins in the same way.
Fresh Persian limes are used to make dried limes as they have a thin skin, are sweeter and less acidic than other varieties.
Limes are first blanched in salted water, cooled, then left to dry in the sun for several days. The longer the limes are left in the sun, the more they dehydrate and the darker they become.
Brown limes are dried for a shorter time and retain some moisture so they are slightly soft.
Black limes have lost all their moisture giving them a hard, crunchy texture however, they are still easy to cut or blend to a powder.
The flavour becomes more intense the longer the limes are left to dry so black dried limes are the more bitter of the two.
Black limes taste slightly fermented and smokey while brown dried limes are more fragrant and citrusy.
Dried limes are entirely different to fresh limes, they have an entirely different aroma and flavour profile (e.g. dried limes are more bitter but less acidic), so one cannot be substituted for the other.
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Ways to use dried limes
- rice – stirred into rice as it is boiling
- ground or grated over cuts of fish, chicken or meat
- ground or grated over salads, such as watermelon salad
- loomi tea – as a digestive
Dried lime powder
Blend a couple of dried limes for a coarse textured powder (see photo) suitable for rubs, or use a coffee or spice grinder for a finer dried lime powder to garnish salads and soups.
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Brown dried limes are more fragrant with a mild citrus flavour while black dried limes have a fermented, smokey and slightly astringent flavour.
Add dried limes to lift flavour in soups, stews, slow-cooked meat and rice dishes, dry rubs, marinades, over salads, in cocktails or for loomi tea.
There are a few ways to use dried limes with varying degrees of flavour. For slow cook dishes use a knife to pierce holes into the dried lime before submerging in the cooking liquid. The lime slowly becomes tender, releasing flavour. For quicker release of flavour slice the lime in half removing any seeds before stirring into the cooking liquid, or better still grind to a powder for instant and even distribution of flavour.
Slice the dried lime in half and remove any seeds, then grind in a coffee grinder or spice mill to make a fine powder. Only grind as much as you need at a time as the oils dry quickly and loose their flavour, making dried lime powder unsuitable for storing for any length of time.
Unwashed dried limes will keep for a very long time. Store in an airtight container and keep in a cool dry place for up to a year.
Blanch fresh Persian limes in salted water then arrange on a tray to dry in the sun for a few days till they turn brown or black as required for your cooking.
Dried limes have a distinct flavour and are very different to fresh limes so one cannot be substituted for the other. If you do not have dried limes, try using sumac which is also citrusy but it won’t give the same depth of fermented, astringent flavour.
Unwashed, uncut whole dried limes will keep for a very long time. Store in an airtight container and keep in a cool dry place for up to a year.
For best flavour grind dried limes to a powder before you need to use it as once they are ground, the oils quickly dry up and flavour is lost.
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How To Use Dried Limes
- 2 whole dried limes
- Wash and dry 2 whole dried limes before using.
- For slow cook dishes pierce holes in each dried lime and as the dish simmers the limes become tender, slowly releasing flavour. For a faster release of flavour slice each lime in half removing any seeds then submerge in the cooking liquid. Grind halved limes (seeds removed) in a coffee grinder or spice mill to a fine powder for instant flavour.
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Nutritional information is calculated automatically and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information above is an estimate per serving.
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