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Alternative To Preserved Lemons

Asked by Jai3315. Answered on 2nd December 2018

Full question

Hi, I live in India and I want to make Nigella's Moroccan Vegetable Pot. Is it possible to substitute the preserved lemons with pickled limes? I would wash the pickled lime, remove the pulp and use only the skin. Will this work for the stew?

Image of Nigella's Moroccan Vegetable Pot with Couscous
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin
Moroccan Vegetable Pot and Couscous with Pine Nuts and Dill
By Nigella
  • 14
  • 2

Our answer

Nigella's Moroccan Vegetable Pot (from AT MY TABLE) is a hearty vegetable stew flavoured with saffron, cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Chopped preserved lemons are added to the stew for a slightly sour edge.

Preserved lemons are common in Middle Eastern and North African cooking and are most commonly made by packing quartered lemons into jars with salt. They are then left for a couple of weeks and the salt combines with the juice of the lemons to make a brine that softens the lemons. The process also involves some natural fermentation, which reduces the bitterness of the lemons. Our understanding is that most Indian lime pickles are made by cooking the limes with spices and then leaving them to ferment, so we suspect that the limes may be a little too strongly flavoured, even if washed before using. In our experience the skins of limes can also be more bitter than lemons, so even after fermenting they may still be a little too bitter for the dish. We would instead suggest making the stew without the preserved lemons and then adding a squeeze or two of lemon juice (to your own taste) just before serving.

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