Everything to Know About Cooking With Black Lime

Boost your culinary repertoire with this tangy ingredient.

Whole Black Lime and Black Lime Powder
Photo: Photo by Sarah Crowder / Food Styling by Chandra Ram

Black limes, also known as dried limes or black lemons, are often used in Middle Eastern and North African cooking. They add a sour and salty flavor to stews, tagines, and other dishes. The versatility of black lime, which gets its dark, dried appearance from being sun-dried until it turns black in color, makes the fruit a delicious addition to any cook's arsenal. 

What is a black lime?

A black lime is a type of lime that has been blanched in a salty brine, then dried in the sun until their flesh and peel have turned black and have hardened. The drying process concentrates the lime's natural flavors and aromas, making black limes a powerful and flavorful addition to a wide range of dishes.

Black limes hail from Oman, a country in the far south of Iran by the Arabian Sea. Although black limes are easy to make at home, it is more common for them to be sold in specialty stores. 

What do black limes taste like?

Their flavor is sour, slightly sweet, and bitter, with a strong citrus-forward smell. When used in cooking, black limes add a noticeable depth and complexity to dishes, and are often used to add a sour and a slight salty taste to a dishes like stews and soups. 

How do you cook with black limes?

Black limes can be used either whole or in powdered form, and are commonly cooked with in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, especially in dishes such as tagines and stews. They are commonly incorporated to the cooking liquid that adds an overall sour and salty flavor to the dish. They are typically removed before serving but can also be used as a garnish or to make lime salt, which is a condiment used to season dishes. 

When used whole in cooking, as with our Chicken with Black Limes recipe, black limes add a nice tangy depth and flavor. Or, they can be pierced and used to infuse liquids such as broth or water. Black limes is also used to make a traditional Middle Eastern drink called "limonana," that is made by blending rehydrated black limes with a water, sugar, and ice mixture.

Black limes are also commonly ground into a powder and can be used as a seasoning for meats, poultry, and fish. When ground, the spice can also be added to sauces, dressings, and marinades to give them a citrus and zesty flavor. 

In addition to their malleability in the kitchen, black limes are also very nutritious. They are a rich source of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. However you use them, black limes are an ingredient that will add tangy punch and complexity to your cooking. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles