Brown and Black Dried Limes (Limoo Amani, Noomi Basra)

Persian Dried Limes, Limoo Omani
Brown and Black Dried Limes, Limoo Omani, whole and powdered

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Dried limes, whether brown or black are a very popular ingredient throughout the Middle East and have various names, depending on where you are or where the limes are from. Interestingly, all the Arabic names refer to them as lemons, the word limoo, as I understand it, growing up, is lemon.  But of course they are limes.

The dried limes themselves are said to have originated in Oman, where they are called loomi. Outside of Oman, they are known as limoo amani (as in Omani lemons), Noomi Basra (roughly means lemons from Basra, a town in Iraq).

What are Limoo Amani or Dried Limes?

Basically, they are limes that have been soaked in brine, then left out to dry in the hot sun, and they come in two shades, as you can see in the images here: brown and black. The black limes are just dried a little longer. But as you can see from the image, both the brown and black limes are black on the inside.

Loomi Tea, Dried Lime Tea
Loomi Tea

How to Use Dried Limes?

These dried limes are salty, sour, a little musky and with just a hint of bitter. And they are used to impart those notes to

  • stews
  • sauces and
  • rice dishes
  • They also add a wonderful dimension to spice mixes, like the advieh spice mix we have here.
  • And they make great tea (above)

Many Persian stews rely on black limes for a touch of tartness that is one of the signature flavours of this rich and ancient cuisine, like the Khoresh Bademjan below.

Khoresh Bademjan Persian Eggplant Stew
Khoresh Bademjan Persian Eggplant Stew

When I use them in a stew, all I do is make an incision or two with a small knife and then I drop the lime in the stew. It’ll get hydrated while at the same time, it will impart a wonderfully deep tartness and tang to the dish.

If you have a good spice grinder, you could also grind it into a powder as you see above, after removing the seeds which are bitter. Then all you need to do is get a pinch and sprinkle it over whatever recipe you are cooking. This is great sprinkled on salads, especially any of our Middle Eastern ones, like Salad Shirazi:

Salad Shirazi, Persian Salad
Salad Shirazi

You can also make tea from dried limes. In fact, one of my readers provided me with a cocktail based on limoo tea. I’ll post that real soon!

Substitute for Dried Limes

Any ingredient that gives you a tart flavour like fresh lemon or lime juice and sumac would make a suitable substitute, even if missing the full flavour spectrum.

Where to buy Dried Limes

As long as you have access to Middle Eastern stores, you ought to find them. I live on the south coast of England, and the only way I get many “exotic” ingredients is by buying them online. One of my favourite stores in the UK is SousChef.co.uk.

Now, shall we get cooking?

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And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood.

Lin xx

Brown and Black Dried Limes (Limoo Amani, Noomi Basra)

Brown or Black Dried limes, also known as limoo amani, noomi basra or just loomi, is an essential ingredient in much of the Persian Gulf cooking.
5 from 29 votes
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Course: Ingredients
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: limes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

How to use Limoo Amani

Instructions

Method 1

  • Pound with the back of a knife, until you have 2-3 pieces.
  • Drop into the recipe as instructed.

Method 2

  • Pound with the back of your knife until you have 5-6 pieces.
  • Place in a spice mill and grind to a fine powder.

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