Black dried limes are simply processed limes. They are made by boiling fresh limes in salt-water solution, and then leaving them to dry until they're rock hard. The products of this preservation process are brown to black colored lines that now possess a brittle texture.
The black dried lime, which is also known as the ‘limu omani’, is considered an essential spice in the cuisines of Iran, Iraq, and other Gulf States. A mere squeeze of this ingredient can give your dish a distinct taste fit for a five-star menu.
The flavour can be described as a sour and a heavy concentrate of fresh limes, mixed with a little fermented goodness that cannot be found in its freshly picked forms. Its flavour, is therefore compared to sumac, which is a common spice used in many stews and braises found in the Middle Eastern cuisines.
Here's how to use black dried limes:
The black dried likes can be applied in two different forms: whole or in powdery form.
To use a black lime in its whole form, simply wash it, pierce with a knife and drop it in a cooking pot of soups or stews. As the limes soak up the cooking fluids and heat, they release their unique flavours. Wash them well before using, and pierce it with a sharp knife to let it yield to the liquid.
The second way to incorporate black dried limes into a dish is to grind it into a powder, and then use it as a spice. You can then apply it just like you would for any ground spices — cocktail bartenders even use the black lime powder to rim glasses or as a garnish for fruits.