SPICE STORIES: Breathe new life into your cooking with dried limes

dried limes
Dried Lime


Small limes ( "limu Omani" ) are boiled in salt brine and left to dry until they're rock hard. Dried limes are a staple of Iranian cooking. Used in one of two ways: whole or powdered, whole dried limes can be added to cooking liquid for rice or the braising liquid for a stew or a stock for soup. Reduced to a powder using a spice grinder, the powder can used as a sprinkle on condiment for rice and grains with a similar flavor profile to sumac. The powder combined with oil in a wet rub which is especially good for fish and chicken. The oil releases their essence and helps transfer the glorious flavor.

These citrus flavor bombs, first developed in Oman hence “limu Omani”, are essential ingredients in the cooking of Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States. They are also used in some Indian and Southeast Asian dishes. We absolutely love the bright flavor profile of this somewhat exotic ingredient and dried lime is an important bright note in our herb and spice blends. This simple ingredient can literally transform a whole range of dishes with little effort on your part.

The simplicity of the process from boiling brine to the alchemy that takes place under that desert sun turns bright green limes into nearly black, seemingly hollow ping pong ball-like objects.  The juicy green flesh turns a glossy, maroon-tinged color. Hold one to your nose and you will initially smell freshly grated lime rind followed by the fragrance of hops.

In Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, dried limes are most often added whole to soups and stews. Wash them well, pierce them a couple of times with a sharp knife, and drop a few into the pot. The broth will be transformed with a delightful tang and complexity that will delight and intrigue your diners. The brightness of dried limes match well with lamb and pair perfectly with fish and chicken. The simple addition to a bright spring recipe of chicken and herbs is almost magical. Once you’ve used them, whole and powdered dried lime will become a pantry staple!