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Persian-Inspired Dried Lime Chicken

Persian ChixIf there’s one culinary treasure that continually amazes me, it’s dried limes.

Their subtle complexity and delectable tanginess are always impressive, but what surprises me most is their relative obscurity; few people in the West seem to know they exist.

While this is unfortunate, at least you can wow your friends and guests with our Persian-Inspired Dried Lime Chicken.

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and learning about Persian cuisine through two lifelong friends, both of whom have Persian/Iranian origins.

Although this isn’t an authentic Persian recipe, it was inspired by the tastes my friends (and especially their mothers) introduced me to, particularly those of slow-cooked herbs and dried limes.

Though prominent in Persian cooking, dried limes were actually invented in Oman.

To make them, fresh limes are briefly boiled in salty water, then left to dry under the hot desert sun.

After several weeks, they become brown and seemingly weightless.

You can purchase dried limes from specialty Middle Eastern markets or online vendors, but we recommend making your own.

To make salt-free dried limes, you’ll need a dehydrator or a friend who has one.

In the case of the latter, offer to prepare our delicious recipe in exchange for one day with the dehydrator.

Instead of drying the limes whole, make slices roughly ¼ inch thick. Arrange them as a single layer and dehydrate according to the machine’s directions.

A less ideal, though still viable option is the oven.

Arrange the lime slices on a rack that allows for air circulation. Select the lowest possible temperature (between 150 and 200°F) and “bake” six hours or until the limes lose most of their moisture.

Persian-Inspired Dried Lime Chicken
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Persian
Serves: Serves 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
  • Slices of 2 dried limes
  • ¾ cup fresh herbs (mix of parsley, cilantro, and mint)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (powder)
  • 2 teaspoons mild paprika
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Break the dried limes into pieces and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes or more while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. Prepare the onion, garlic, and bell pepper.
  4. Prepare the herbs and spices.
  5. Strain the dried limes, retaining their soaking water.
    Chop the limes into small pieces.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the lime pieces and their soaking water with the onion, garlic, bell pepper, herbs, spices, lemon juice, and another ¾ cup water.
    Stir well to combine everything.
  6. Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle with black pepper.
  7. Combine well and transfer to a baking dish.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour, stirring roughly every 20 minutes.
    As the vegetables cook, they will release their juices.
    The dish should remain very moist, but should it become too dry, simply add some water and stir.
    The dish is finished when the chicken is golden brown and very tender.
    To serve, drizzle with olive oil.