Loomi

black-limes

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.

Kumajj

saudi-kumajj

Years ago when I first came to Saudi I was at a shop and came across a very old poorly made recipe book. The instructions and recipes are kind of hard to read like most recipe books you find that come from Saudi they do not have exact instructions or measurements and sometimes the names are really off and although they say one thing it sounds and should be spelled an entirely different way. I usually talk to my mother in law to make sure everything is correct so I can share it here with you all but she happens to be out of town for the Summer so I am just going to go with it and post it here hoping that the name is right as written.

This cake is a Saudi yogurt cake and what I really love about it the most is that it does not have any sugar incorporated into it. I was worried that it would be sour with the yogurt and no sugar but the sugar syrup on top was just perfect. My husband loathes super sweet desserts and he really loved this one as in he has already ate half. I especially love that it has black seeds in it which is a sure sign its a Saudi dish.

In Islam we have a hadith that says:

“Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

1 cup all purpose flour
6 eggs
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar syrup

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add eggs and yogurt. With a hand-mixer mix well. Add vanilla and black seed, mix. Sift flour into bowl, add baking powder and mix.

2. Grease a 30 cm round baking pan (I used 2 loaf pans). And fold the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

3. Remove from heat and carefully pour syrup on top (use as much as you like) and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yields: 1 30cm or 2 loaf cakes

  • Did you know that black seed was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. This suggest that black seed had an important role in ancient Egypt, since it was customary to place in tombs items needed in the afterlife.

The Best Onion Rings Ever

the-best-onion-rings-ever

I am really weird about onions. I like to mince or pulse them to use in my recipes because I like the flavor they give but I do not like to eat them any other way like on my burger or in a salad. My grandparents eat onions like an apple, wowsers. I have always been in this neutral zone when it comes to onion rings. I kind of like them and I kind of do not. What I really do not like is if they are soggy are having a huge piece of onion in them. A few weeks ago I saw a picture of a blooming onion from Outback Steakhouse and thought how good it looked. However, it seemed like a lot of work, I did not have a sweet onion and I think they are too thick for my liking.

That is when this major craving took over and I decided to try to make my own onion ring recipe, one that I would actually eat. I used white onions because that is what I always have and they are typically used for onion rings, I made sure to make the rings really thin, doubled battered with buttermilk (a Southern rule when we fry) and I still used the Outback dipping sauce. Oh man these are good and let me tell you I have since made them again. They are so worth the time (and mess) and once you try them with the dipping sauce you will never want ketchup again.

1 medium white onion, sliced thin
1 egg, beaten
2 cups buttermilk (I used laban)
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sunflower oil

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons creamed horseradish
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 dash black pepper
1 dash cayenne

1. In a bowl add mayonnaise and ketchup, mix well. Add horseradish, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, dash of black pepper and cayenne. Mix well, cover and place in refrigerator until needed.

2. In a saute pan on medium heat add oil (it should be 1 inch). Allow for the oil to reach about 350F.

3. In a medium sized bowl add beaten egg and buttermilk, mix. In another medium sized bowl add flour, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, mix well.

4. Working with a handful of onion slices at a time dip in buttermilk, then flour, buttermilk and flour again for double battering. Then carefully place into the hot oil. Cook until golden (as much as you like it. Carefully flip and continue doing so until finished.

5. Place on a serving platter lined with paper towels and serve.

Yields: 4-6 servings