Friday, June 27, 2008

Loomi Tea

As you may remember from my very first Taste & Create experience, I was on a quest to find Loomi for my Kuwaiti Chicken Mechbous. Loomi are dried black limes (also called Omani and mistakenly marketed as "lemons"). The limes have been boiled in salt water and dried in the sun until they are blackened. Loomi have a very distinct odor and taste, not like anything I'd ever had.

My partner for the event, Dita, now has a beautiful picture and a description of loomi and its various other names here.

While I was researching a source for loomi, (although popular in the middle east, it is not readily available in the states), I ran across a recipe for loomi "tea." Unfortunately the link no longer works, but luckily I had already copied the recipe! I am sad to lose the contributor's name, but I couldn't get there today.

Loomi "tea" is supposed to be very refreshing when it is hot, so I thought it would be a perfect drink for summertime in the desert. Today, I set out to make it. My plan is to allow the loomi to steep all day, since I did not think to make this last night. This afternoon, when it is nice and hot outside, I will break out the ice cubes and have a nice refreshing, hopefully pleasant drink!

If you'd like to make some loomi tea for yourself, you can buy dried limes here, just search for "omani."

I crushed the limes (hard little things!) in my mortar and pestle. That's Sawed Off's little hand/finger, pointing at and saying "Tea! Tea!" The limes smell wonderful when they are freshly crushed, you'll have to take my word for it as I realize they don't look wonderful!

Floating in the pot of water they look a bit odd...

You can see that they have already started to color the water...and they do smell great!

I am intrigued. The limes have been boiled and are now steeping in the pot. I let the limes steep for several hours, basically until the mixture had cooled. I think it would be a good future plan to boil this in the evening, and then let steep overnight.

Then I strained the tea through cheesecloth into my pitcher, and then gathered up the cheesecloth and squeezed all the juice out of the limes. I added the sugar and mixed it up.

Served over ice, this is a very refreshing drink! It has an unusual flavor, but it is delicious. And there is no caffeine, and very little sugar. Excellent.

Here's the recipe:

Loomi Tea

As for most Middle-Eastern drinks, you have to use your own judgment for sugar and intensity of flavor. The recipe below is only a starting point. Add more loomi or sugar as you think fit.

8 Loomi Lemons, crushed (I used 9, why not)
1/2 cup or more to taste, sugar
1 gallon water

Add a gallon of water to loomi in a non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, turn off burner and cool. (I put a lid on the pot)
Strain and then add the sugar. Let sugar dissolve at room temperature.
Stir, taste for sugar and chill.
Serve chilled with ice cubes.

Note: You can also leave the loomi soaking in the gallon of water overnight. In the morning, bring to a boil, turn heat off and strain and add sugar. But the recipe above can be used when making it in a hurry.

Also, crush the loomi into small pieces using a mortar and pestle. This brings out the flavor and sourness. In old days I am told grandmas would use their hands to crush the loomi as they soaked in the water.


Beth said...

This is great! I am doing an article on loomi for Flavor/Spice of the Month in the North Afican/Middle East Forum at Could I use this entry, crediting you as the source? I found this page from a link at Dita's site.


Min said...

Hi Beth,
I would love for you to reference this recipe for your article. Can you please post a link to your article here when it's completed?

Beth said...

Spices/Flavors of the Month at Recipezaar's North African/Middle East Forum ~ LOOMI:

THANK YOU for letting me use your expertise & photos to share with the Zaar community about this ingredient! Please stop by the NA*ME Forum sometime & say 'hello'!


Anonymous said...

I made this tea using loomi that are really black not like the ones you used in the pictures that are the white type. It was a bit too bitter and I think it is because I used the black variety which is more common in Kuwait and UAE rather than the white ones more common in Iraq, or so I understand. Also they are not mistakingly labeled lemons it is just in Arabic there is not a separate word for lime so it it translated as lemon as that is what it is in Arabic although it is "green lemons" ie limes.

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