Lamoon Me’asfar

EGYPT

Below you'll find a new fridge staple and you'll never look back

SUBMITTED BY

Rehaam

In my “Lemon Dishes from Around the World” series, I was eager to see a submission called lamoon me-asfar, or safflowered lemons. This Egyptian preserved lemon is a tangy, salty, and bold version of the fruit we know and love. It serves as the perfect accompaniment to any meal, and I really enjoyed the simplicity of the preservation process!

This lamoon me-asfar recipe comes from Rehaam in Cairo, Egypt. As Rehaam puts it, this dish encompasses everything you never expected from a humble lemon. Lemon flavor is actually foundational to the flavor profile of much of Middle Eastern cuisine. The first known published recipe for preserved lemons appeared in the 12th-century Egyptian work, “On Lemon, its Drinking and Use,” by a Jewish doctor, Jumay. All subsequent lemon preservation recipes are based on this one, and they are still being eaten in Egypt all these years later. 

Rehaam recalls fond memories of driving up to the coast with her family, spending lazy afternoons by the sea, and returning home to find her grandma on the floor, surrounded by countless vegetables. Her grandmother would chop, wash, rinse, and pickle away, preserving certain foods in jars for her family to enjoy throughout the entire summer season. Rehaam hopes you try lamoon me-asfar because there isn’t a better way to understand someone’s culture than tasting the food they grew up eating every day. 

I love the idea of savoring a food and simultaneously thinking of those for whom that food is tradition. My lamoon me-asfar was lemony perfection, and it is easy to replicate. The lemons took two weeks to be ready, and when they were, the skin was so soft. They emitted strong lemony smells, which were so pleasant. The sourness was lovely, and I enjoyed them with lentils.

Lamoon me-asfar will keep in your fridge for months. I hope you try this unassuming lemon dish and think of Rehaam’s family as you do!

Watch the Video

Lamoon me’asfar

Ingredients
  

  • 5 Fresh Lemons
  • 1.5 tbsp Nigella Seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp Dried Safflower
  • 1 tbsp Course Salt
  • 4 cups Boiled Water with 4 tbsp Sea Salt in it
  • Oil

Instructions
 

  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil on the stovetop then add ½ tsp of salt, stir to dissolve
  • Pour the salt water into the jar (or jars) you will be using to store the lemons. Leave it to cool.
  • Put the lemons in a pot and cover with water. Place over high heat but do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat just before the water boils.
  • Remove the lemons from the pot and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut off the ends of the lemons (the pointy sides).
  • Without cutting all the way through the lemon, cut them into quarters. 
  • Mix together the nigella seeds, safflower, and 1 tbsp of salt in a small bowl.
  • Rub the safflower mix into the open lemons
  • Stuff them into your jars
  • The top of the water should be entirely covering the top of the lemons.
  • Leave for 2 weeks out of the sun, shaking it every few days.
    After 2 weeks move them to the fridge and enjoy for up to a month!

Notes

Recipe inspired by Fermentation
Course: Dessert, Lunch, Snack
Region: Africa
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

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