Dried lime is also known as black lime, or noumi basra in Iraq, limoo amani in Iran and loomi in Oman. It is a lime that has lost its water content after a long period of being dried in the sun. These sun dried limes are used, whole, sliced or ground as a spice in Middle Eastern dishes. Originating in the Persian Gulf, hence the Persian name limoo amani (“Omani limes”), dried limes are popular in cookery across the Middle East.
Dried limes are used to add an acidic or sour flavor to dishes, through a process known as souring. In Persian cuisine, they are used to flavor stews and soups. Across the Persian Gulf, they are used cooked with fish, whereas in Iraq they are often powdered and added to rice dishes and stuffing. Powdered dried lime is also used as an ingredient in Persian Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture which is also called kabsa or kebsa). It is a traditional ingredient of Arabic and Persian cooking.
In the days when nomadic peoples were still travelling the sands with their herds on the look out for places to stop for feeding, they had no refrigeration facilities to preserve foods, so they took along with them from the more fertile coastal areas many foods which had been preserved to sustain the high heat and humidity. Most of these foods were prepared for storage through the process of sun drying, such the loomi. Today, loomi can still be found for sale in local markets, but the widespread usage of modern refrigeration to store foods mean that traditional processes like sun drying are decreasing. Furthermore, changes in diets and the use of imported ingredients and spices means that there is less attention to typical, local cooking and the use of the connected ingredients like loomi.