Loomi: The Black Lime Spice

Loomi is a Middle Eastern spice made from limes that have been brined and dried before being ground to a powder. Limes are indigenous to Southern Asia and are better suited for warm conditions when compared to lemons. The first limes in the Middle East may have been brought back by conquering Moors or Turks.

The variety of lime most commonly used to make loomi is the Persian or Tahitian lime, which was believed to have originated in Iran. Iran was once called Persia. Historians believe loomi to be the result of a crop that remained on the tree for too long and dried there.

Flavor profile of loomi

Loomi is a popular souring agent, but also has a subtle sweetness. The spice’s flavor has a strong lime component as you might expect, but also has notes of asafoetida and vinegar.

Health benefits of loomi

Like most spices, loomi is good for you. While some of its nutrients may be removed during the drying process, others remain and may even be concentrated by desiccation. The fact that loomi consists largely of citrus peel means that it contains healthy compounds like:

  • Phytochemicals: Lime peel is a rich source of phytochemicals. These compounds act as antioxidants that have numerous biological effects including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic benefits.
  • Minerals: Lime peel contains an ample supply of potassium, which the body uses to maintain a healthy blood pressure. In addition, the mineral is used to maintain bone and muscle and can work in the brain to stimulate cognitive activity.
  • Pectin: Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that can help to slow digestion and add bulk to stool. Among pectin’s benefits is its potential for reducing both cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Folic acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps your body to produce new cells and can lower blood pressure.

Loomi’s nutrients can help to prevent a range of serious health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes: Pectin and other compounds in lime peel have the ability to reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Loomi may also be able to improve insulin sensitivity, which is a major factor in diabetes.
  • Cancer: One of the benefits of the folic acid in loomi is that vitamin’s ability to prevent the DNA changes that result in cancer. In addition, the pectin content may help to prevent colon cancer.
  • Heart disease: Research has shown that citrus peel has been effective at lower cholesterol in both animals and humans.

Common uses of loomi

Loomi is used like sumac in that both provide a strong tartness to dishes. The spice is used heavily in tagines, soups and stews as well as in many Iranian dishes but it pairs especially well with chicken and fish. It can be an excellent substitute for the lemon in lemon pepper mixes and can provide an interesting sour note in a spice rub for grilled meat.

Middle Eastern cooks also use loomi in legume dishes as well as for flavoring basmati rice. In addition to its use as a seasoning, loomi is popular for making teas that can be consumed hot or cold.