Loomi

Loomi

Dried limes

By
From
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Photographer
Alan Benson

Gulf cooks use dried limes (loomi) either whole or powdered, but in Iran and Iraq they are only used whole. When using intact loomi, they must be pierced with a skewer on each side so the cooking liquid can travel through the lime to take the flavour. In the dry heat of the Middle East the limes are very brittle and the holes can be made by simply pressing with a finger. I live in a humid climate and find that the humidity toughens the lime, so more forceful means of piercing and powdering need to be adopted. To powder loomi, pound them using a mortar and pestle, or process in a blender.

As loomi are not readily available outside the Middle East, instructions for preparing them are given below. The species of lime used alters the flavour a little, but it is still a most interesting spice. A sprinkling of powdered loomi also does wonders for steaks — rub some in before grilling or pan-frying!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
small fresh limes, preferably Tahitian limes
1 tablespoon salt

Method

  1. Leave the limes whole, but if they are very large they can be halved to speed the drying process.
  2. Put the limes in a saucepan of boiling water with the salt. Return to the boil, then allow to boil rapidly for 3–5 minutes, depending on size. Drain.
  3. Spread the limes on a wire rack and place them in the sun to dry. This takes up to a week, depending on the strength of sun. Turn the limes daily.
  4. If there is insufficient heat in the sun (which could be the case, as limes are a late autumn and winter fruit), it might be necessary to resort to other means. In this case place the rack of limes in the oven, set on the lowest possible heat. Place the rack in the coolest part of the oven and leave for 3–4 days. A warming drawer would be even better — or if you can get one, use an electric food dryer.
  5. The limes are ready when they are dark and the flesh is completely dehydrated, but take care not to leave them until they are too dark. Store in an airtight container.
Tags:
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Tess
Mallos
Middle Eastern
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