Tuesday, January 21, 2014

555. Iraqi Noomi Tea

Nadia, one the  first commentators on this blog, is an expert in all things Levant. She told me something the other day that surprised me: Noomi Basra, or dried limes, are rarely (if ever) used in Levant cooking!
We use it so freely in Iraqi as well as Arabian Gulf cooking, that I just assumed it was an Arab spice including the Levant. Which makes sense because Iraq is the gateway between the Levant and the Arabian Gulf. Not only do we use noomi basra in various chicken, meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes, we also make a tea from it! Both hot tea in the winter, as well as iced tea in the summer.
There is a very important point to consider in noomi basra: where the actual dried lime is an intriguing mixture of smokey tartness, its seeds are exceedingly bitter, and unpleasantly so. So in any recipe not using the lime whole (which would contain the seeds), remove the seeds as you are crushing the lime.
Some people make it for medicinal purposes: it is very rich in vitamin C so it is great for relieving colds and headaches. It also tames bowel irritation. It is extremely warming, and will send heatwaves throughout your body. Note that it is extremely tart (think sour candy tart) and will need sugar to tame the flavor, especially if you are not used to it. This Chai Noomi Basra (شاي نومي بصرة) was a special request by Nadia.


5 noomi basra
4 cups water
sugar to taste


Crush the noomi basra into large chunks using a mortar and pestle.
Remove all the seeds and discard them.
Put the noomi and water in a kettle and bring to a boil.
Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Serve in istikans with sugar according to taste.

 صحة و عافية


  1. so honored again.,, ur blog is always inspiring....off to the kitchen! Nadia

    1. That's very kind of you, thanks for your words and your request. I hope you'll enjoy it!

  2. ty for posting the recipe///thought u might like this feedback.. made the tea...it is definitely an acquired taste .very intense.......even though i do love tart!...however this spice in savory cooking is magical...Nadia

    1. Yes, it does need some getting used to. I appreciate your feedback, thanks Nadia!

  3. Assalama alaikoum Maryam, thanks so much for your post. I wanted to make this tea for ages as I found it in the Sarah Al Hamad cookbook- Cardamom & Lime, if I am not mistaken, but never got around to making it. Will definitely try it soon - can't wait :) Best wishes to you dear. Khadija

    1. Wa alaikum al Salam dear Khadija, I'm so glad to hear that and I hope you like it!
      Give it a chance because rarely people like it from the first try.
      All the best, Maryam.

  4. Oh I will, it maybe just like the Lebanese cafe blanc, which is simply boiling water with orange blossom and sugar, at first it takes like drinking perfume but somehow becomes more and more addictive :) thank you again. Khadija

    1. Subhan Allah that you should mention white coffee! I've just started replacing my morning coffee with it. I take it with rosewater and no sugar, like my mom did.
      Thanks for dropping a word Khadija, it's always wonderful to hear from you.

  5. I ran out of fresh lemons for lemonade and had some dried limes, so I made this.

    It's less tart than fresh lemonade, and tastes more like black tea. It's very good. Thanks for the recipe!