Ever since I made Gormeh Sabzi with dried limes a few weeks ago, I have been looking for more ways to incorporate these little flavor-bursts into my cooking. The New York Times did a feature story on them a few years ago called “Dried Limes, a Middle Eastern Secret for Flavoring Soups and Stews.”
The author described them accurately with this sentence: “Holding one to your nose is a bit like sniffing freshly grated lime rind while standing in the center of a brewery.” They are very pungent which mean they lend themselves well to lazy cooking. If you throw a couple of these limes in your dish, you won’t need much else for flavor.
I loosely followed the suggested recipe for chicken stew.
1. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil and brown 6-8 chicken thighs in a large stew pot. Remove and set aside.
2. Add 2 chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add 2-4 garlic gloves and sauté for one minute more.
3. Add 6 cups of chicken stock, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and the chicken.
4. Pierce 4-6 dried limes with a knife. (This is like trying to stab a ping-pong ball so be careful!) Add to the pot.
5. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes. Occasionally push limes against the side of the pot so they release their juices as they soften up.
6. During the last five minutes, add a cup of chickpeas, a giant mound of chopped spinach and whatever other chopped herbs you want (cilantro, chives, parsley, etc.)
7. Season with salt if necessary and serve with sliced radishes, scallions, chopped mint, walnuts and or a dollop of Greek yogurt.
I like to leave the limes in the stew but don’t eat one. Pungent means pungent!