In this post I would like to begin the documentation of a culinary project to undertake the reverse-engineering of “Kurdish lemonade,” a chilled citrus beverage served at Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant in St. Paul, “the United State’s first Kurdish restaurant.” The drink at Babani’s is made not from fresh lemons, but dried limes (this much I know) and, despite the generic name, is very likeable. It is citric, tart and refreshing, but also tannic and kind of earthy. The sole recipe I managed to turn up that in any way involves what I already know making this drink must, is as follows:
Omani Lemon Tea
4 cups of water
5-6 whole dried Omani lemons (or Basri lemons, or black lemons)
2 large Tablespoons of honey
more sugar to taste, if desired
Open up the Omani lemons and remove the interiors, reserving the rinds. Boil them with the water and honey for 5 minutes. Strain and serve.
Omani lemons are actually limes, and in the Middle-east, and probably elsewhere as well, the lemon-lime distinction as enunciated in the commodities of the West does not seem to exist. There, limes are just another kind of lemon (and as such belong to something more like a lemon-lime continuum).
Omani lemons, or “black lemons” are limes that have been boiled in salt water and sun-dried. When the limes dessicate, the flesh within them turns black. In the image of the product below, the script, which is Farsi, reads “limoo omani.”