Loomi: My New Favorite Summer Thirst Quencher

Have any of you tried a Middle Eastern drink called iced loomi? If so, why haven’t you told me about it sooner?! I had the opportunity recently to taste this fascinating, wonderfully citrusy concoction that seems to be becoming my new favorite summer thirst quencher. Loomi are black limes, sometimes mistakenly called black lemons, that are used frequently in Persian cooking, and can also be found in the cuisines of Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, and other Middle Eastern countries, often in soups, stews, and other slow-simmering meat and rice dishes. Basically, they are small limes that have been boiled in very salty water then dried in the sun, and the flavor that results is tangy, earthy, and intense. I was introduced to iced loomi at Bedawi, a welcoming family-owned Middle Eastern cafe in my Brooklyn neighborhood that also serves sublime labana (yogurt with olive oil and mint) and addictive za’atar bread. When I asked one of the kind brothers who work at the cafe about their recipe for iced loomi, he explained that they crush the loomi, then boil it with cloves and other spices, sweeten it with sugar, then serve it over ice with a lemon slice. I’ve had Bedawi’s beautifully complex drink (which to my mind tastes more like iced tea than lemonade) just a few times, but each time the color and taste was slightly different–a bit stronger and darker, a tad more woody or more sour. Yet all versions were delicious. Have you had iced loomi? What’s your favorite nonalcoholic summer drink?

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