Category Archives: middle-east

limoun al-omani, part 1

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.”




Filed under drink, middle-east


This Tunisian carrot salad calls for harissa. Many notes accompany the recipe below, but this dish is very easy – the many notes are just a by-product of cooking mzoura quite a few times, then permitting myself to think I know why it has not turned out as good some times as it has others.

1 lb. carrots, peeled and julienned

5 tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. harissa mixed with 6 tbs. water

1 tsp. ground caraway

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. salt

¼ c. wine vinegar

chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro optional garnish.

Bring a saucepan ¾ full of salted water to boil. Add carrots and boil, until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain well. In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil.

Add the garlic, diluted harissa, caraway, cumin, salt and vinegar. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 min. Transfer to a serving dish, and serve at room temperature, with or without garnish.

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Filed under hors d'œuvre, middle-east, piquant

harissa 1

North african chili sauce.

Combine 1.5 tablespoons ground cayenne, 1/4 cup ground cumin and 1/2 cup olive oil in a mortar and pestle. I also add as much as 2 teaspoons of ground caraway when I have it. Grind the ingredients into a paste, to which you may add a little salt, to taste.

Since this recipe makes more harissa than is likely to be used at once, I recommend storing it in a glass jar with a lid. Harissa of this kind does not require refrigeration. When stored, the contents of the harissa I have made inevitably separate, requiring the ground spices to be stirred up prior to use.

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Filed under middle-east, piquant, sauce/salsa/salsus