Also known as dried lime and lemon Omani. It is used in Iraqi dishes to give a pleasant tang. It is also used to make delicious tea (see Delights from the Garden of Eden, p. 512).
It may be substituted with lime juice (1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon grated lime rind for each dried lime). However, the genuine noomi Basra will give the dish a distinguished aroma and taste. The lemons are naturally dried on trees, and are imported from India and Oman through the port city of Basra in southern Iraq.
Some of the recipes call for whole ones. In this case, they should be pricked with a pointed knife to allow cooking juices to penetrate. However, some of the recipes call for prepared noomi Basra. In this case they are used crushed or ground.
Important: Remember to remove the seeds before grinding because they tend to add a bitter aftertaste to the dish.
Dried limes are available at Middle-Eastern stores and sometimes in the International isles in some of the major supermarkets.
Baharat is an all-purpose blend of spices, somewhat similar to the Indian garam masala ‘spice blend'.
Baharat is used throughout the Middle East, but each region, or even each household, has its own favorite blend of spices.
When I moved to the United States from Iraq, I brought with me a couple of pounds of the spice mix baharat, which I bought from the famous spice market al-Shorja. However, as my supply started to dwindle, I was relieved to discover that what is sold in Western specialty stores as garam masala - the principal spice blend of north India - is more or less similar to my Iraqi baharat.
This type of spice-mix usually looks dark brown. When sometimes people refer to bahar asfar (yellow spice-mix), they usually mean blends mostly composed of curry powder and turmeric, sold everywhere as curry powder.
You might like to adjust quantities in the following to suit your personal preferences.
If you make or buy a big amount, keep it in the freezer in a well-sealed plastic bag and use as needed. It will stay fresh for a very long time.
Mix the following already ground spices in the following proportions: (Makes about ½ cup/2 oz/ 60 g):
2 tablespoons black pepper
1½ tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1½ teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon chili, or to taste
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric, optional
1 teaspoon dried rose petals, optional