I get asked a lot what loomi is on Ya Salam Cooking and where you all can get it. Loomi has several different names such as dried lime, black lime, limun aswad, bin zuhair, dried lemon or black lemon. While some people do call it lemon its not they are lime which you can tell by the smaller size. Ripe limes are boiled in salt water and then dried until they darken. Back in the states I only came across the natural brown ones but here in Saudi they are always black and the reason is that in the Middle East they blacken them. Loomi is imported from Ira, India, Oman and Sudan.
Limes are actually a big part of Bahrain and Omans food culture since they grow there and you will find many recipes even teas with the fruit in it. Loomi adds a citrus flavor and a sour tang to foods and if they are blackened they will even add a smoky flavor. They are used in popular Saudi dishes such as kabsa, matazeez, jareesh and qursan. You will be able to find loomi in any Middle Eastern Grocery store if you live abroad and for those in the Middle East then you already know they are everywhere. Here is how you can make them at home.
1. Dry your own limes by rapidly drying them for three minutes. Drain, then dry in the sun until completely dehydrated.
To use them in cooking you need to crack them a bit so that the flavor can get out. I always just bang mine on the counter to crack it. You can also grate it if you would like. Always remove the loomi before serving.
- Did you know that Bedouin women traditionally dyed their yarns with natural substances, including loomi, henna, madder and pomegranate skins. Alum is used as the mordant and is available in bulk in local markets.