I’ve been using Baharat in a few dishes lately and enjoying it quite a bit. Baharat is an all purpose blend used in the Middle East and parts of North Africa. It turns out that each area has a slight variation in their spices. Since my most recent recipes used black lemons, I decided to go with a Persian gulf variation that calls for them. I made about a cup so I could have some pre-made for any other recipes that might happen to use it in the future. To heighten the spice’s aroma, you can toast to order for a recipe or just toast the whole batch in a hot pan before sealing in a jar.
Ever since I tried black lemons in another Saudi Arabian dish I loved the complex flavors they provided. The lemons are technically limes that are dried and charred, giving them a smokey citrusy taste. I punctured the lemons and placed them inside the chicken cavity to roast. The chicken is roasted in Baharat, a middle east spice blend and honey. The dark color of the skin comes from the ground black lemons. It was a simple dish that goes nicely on a bed of jasmine rice or with sourdough flat bread.
I first heard about this recipe from my mom who had been talking about this “great chicken recipe that uses black lemons.” I had never made Saudi Arabian food before so I was looking forward to trying out a new dish. The recipe uses black lemons which is different from preserved lemons which I make pretty often. The black lemons are actually limes that are dried and turned black. They taste sour and citrusy, but the fact they are dried gives them a slightly smoky, fermented taste. The black lemons are used to flavor the dish like a bay leaf but aren’t really eaten (though they do soften up after cooking so I suppose you could eat them). The recipe is simple and takes roughly about 30 minutes to prepare. I loved how the black lemons flavored the chicken, tomatoes and onions. The chicken is served with rice and garnished with sauteed slivered almonds, golden raisins, onions and seasoned with cinnamon. All of the ingredients worked so well together and I have a feeling I will be exploring other ways to use that tasty almond and raisin garnish.