If you like sour, salty pickles, this recipe is for you! Pickled limes are tangy, savoury, spicy and make a great companion for Middle Eastern dishes.
My mother may not make the best roast lamb, but she sure makes the best pickles! When I was a child, she would always have a few jars of pickles on the kitchen counter filled with pickled goodies. Egyptians love pickles; we eat them with everything. For breakfast, we usually have falafel, mashed fava beans (ful), fried eggplant and peppers, with fresh Egyptian balady bread (which is sort of like pita bread, but better). However, breakfast would never be complete without the ubiquitous torshi which is mixed pickles. The same goes for every other meal in Egypt, you have to have a bowl of pickles on the table alongside your meals.
As a kid, I was famous for my love for salty food. I would horrify everyone with the insane amounts of salt I added to my food. Eventually, I developed a passion for spicy food too. As a result, I would often sneak into my aunt’s kitchen and munch on pickles. Just pickles, without anything else to go with them! I still do that sometimes when I feel I need something salty, I eat a slice of pickle or an olive.
Anyway, enough about my insane love for pickles, let’s get down to the business of making pickled limes! If you like pickles as much as I do and you’re also a fan of tangy, salty, spicy food, you’ll love pickled limes. For people who aren’t used to flavourful food, this might be an acquired taste. However, I highly recommend that you acquire this taste: you won’t regret it! A note about this recipe: in my mother’s original recipe, she uses whole limes. However, the limes I found at the supermarket were enormous and I had a relatively small jar, I decided to cut them into wedges. The result was that the lime pickles were ready in just one week instead of taking longer.
- Five large limes, (if you use small ones, you can increase the number of limes depending on the size of your jar).
- Three tablespoons pickling or kosher salt, plus one for layering with the limes.
- Four small chilli peppers (I used dried Thai bird’s eye chilli peppers, but you can use fresh chilli peppers of any variety as long as they are very hot)
- One tablespoon of granulated white sugar.
- One cup of hot water, plus three cups for blanching the limes.
- If you are using large limes, cut them into quarters, if you are using small ones, keep them whole.
- In a large saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil. Drop the limes into it gently and cover. Boil for exactly five minutes.
- Remove the limes from the heat and cool them under cold water.
- Bring the last cup of water to a boil and dissolve three tablespoons of salt and the sugar in it.
- Using tongs, transfer the limes into a clean or sanitised pickling jar.
- Layer the limes with chilli peppers and some extra salt.
- Pour the pickling bring onto the lime mixture. Cover tightly. These pickled limes should be ready within one week to ten days. They’re delicious served with rich dishes such as roasted lamb or duck to balance out the richness. They should taste salty, sour and spicy.
Do you like pickled limes? Have you ever tried making them before? Let me know in the comments!
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