Brown and somewhat shrivelled, they almost look like a nasty surprise from the bottom of the fridge – but the flavour dried limes, often called loomi or Basra limes, bring to a dish is anything but old and tired. Typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine – especially around the Persian Gulf – dried limes can be found here at many ethnic food stores. Dried limes are pretty tough, and while you could try grinding them to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder, it’s easier to pierce the limes several times with a skewer and add whole to dishes as they cook. Traditionally they impart a distinctive tartness to stews and basmati rice dishes, and their sourness works especially well with fish and alongside pungent herbs such as coriander. Prod them occasionally with a wooden spoon to encourage them to release their flavour, and remove before serving. Add a dried lime to couscous during cooking to perk it up. As an alternative to a fresh lemon, pop a dried lime into the cavity of a chicken before roasting. Try cooking quinoa, Elby or freekeh with some dried lime and other spices. Make an Omani-style baharat (spice mix) with dried lime as the star ingredient. A favourite tea in parts of the Middle East is made by cracking open dried limes and infusing in boiling water.