Dubai: It’s lemon season. Lemon demand peaks during summers. Squeeze them, zest them (try the recipe for lemon meringue below), add to biryani and pulao for that instant tangy flavor, or to your summer drinks. You can make them into pickles or candies. For such a small fruit, lemons have a versatile character. That’s not all. These bright yellow fruits are ripe with health benefits too.
Apart from a bold flavor, lemons are packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. A quick Google search shows multiple medical research papers that show the benefits of adding lemon to your diet. Gulf News food team spoke to two Dubai-based nutritionists who explained the benefits of lemons and how to include them in your daily diet.
Thirty-eight-year-old Soumya Mishra, a nutritionist, who has been in the UAE for 15 years, said: “Lemons are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids that help remove free radicals from the body and reduce cell damage. They are rich in fiber and known to improve good health. ”
Mishra also added why she likes lemons and how she makes it a point to include this citrus fruit in her daily diet. “My fondest memory of eating lemons are from my childhood. It was a dining table staple, especially during winters at our home. We would mix sliced fresh ginger (the pink colored ones), slit green chillies and lemon slices, toss them in a mason jar, sprinkle rock salt, give it a mix and have it with our food on the side. It made an excellent digestive and I have preserved this recipe and make it often. ”
Another Dubai-based expert – Yasmine Haddad, Child and Adult nutritionist from Syria, recalled how lemon is widely used in her Mediterranean cuisine. “My grandfather had a farm, and we used to pick lemons, wash them and use them in different forms in our food.” She suggests using them as a drizzle on beans, spinach stews or soups before serving to increase iron absorption in the body; because vitamin C is known to optimize iron absorption.
Additionally, if you want to include lemon in your daily diet – a good way would be to start your day with a glass of lemon water. Haddad added: “It is fine to have it in the morning with warm water but don’t make it too acidic. For one cup of water, 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice should be fine. ” This helps hydrate the body first thing in the morning and ease digestion. However, if you have reflux or gastric problems, then avoid it or consult your dietitian first, she said.
My grandfather had a farm, and we used to pick lemons, wash them and use them in different forms in our food
– Yasmine Haddad
How do you store lemons in your kitchen?
We would mix sliced fresh ginger (the pink colored ones), slit green chillies and lemon slices, toss them in a mason jar, sprinkle rock salt, give it a mix and have it with our food on the side.
– Soumya Mishra
If you want to keep lemons fresh for a long time, instead of storing them in the fridge or stacking them with other vegetables in your kitchen, here is a quick hack. Fill a mason jar with fresh and clean water, put the lemons in it, close the lid, and then store it in your refrigerator. This way, you’ll have fresh lemons every time you need one. For what to do with them, here are five recipes that use these sour fruit in so many different ways:
South African seafood potjie with lemon dumplings
In South Africa, potjie translates to small pot food. This is a stew-based recipe traditionally prepared in an outdoor space in a three-legged iron pot over a wood fire. It uses a blend of fresh seafood – fish, calamari, shrimps and tangy dumplings made of lemon rind and juice cooked for 30 minutes. If you want to cook this one-pot filling meal, here is the recipe.
Tea Panna cotta with lemon Maltese ricotta
Ricotta is a soft, sweet, Italian whey cheese made from leftover cheese. It is not considered a cheese but a by-product much healthier than regular cheese. This Maltese drink recipe by Chef Chef Jonathan Brincat of Michelin-starred Noni restaurant in malta uses Lemon flavored ricotta, lemon foam and panna cotta. If you are looking for a sweet and sour refreshing drink, try the recipe here.
If you have leftover rice and some lemons, whip up this rice recipe in 10 minutes. It makes for a wholesome meal. This recipe is a classic from the south of India and is tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds. Even if you are making rice from scratch, it is an easy and quick dish to cook.
Tagine with preserved lemons
This is a traditional Moroccan dish from the North of Africa. It is named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in – tagine. This recipe uses chicken, and preserved lemon is one of the key ingredients here. In North African cooking, lemons are preserved and used in recipes to add brightness and rich flavor to tagines, stews, dressing, salads and sauces.
To make lemon preserves: Place cut lemons in a mason jar and sprinkle salt to preserve lemons. Leave some air space before sealing. Shake the mason jar daily to distribute the lemon juice and salt generously, and let it ripen for 30 days.
Here is a traditional tagine recipe using preserve lemons
Lemon meringue tart
This recipe requires patience and skill. Topped with crispy meringue and zesty lemon curd, this classic dessert recipe balances sweet and sour flavors. The filling of the pastry uses lemon curd, which is made using sugar, egg yolks and corn flour, stirred into boiling lemon juice and its zest, whisked until thick. Here is the recipe
How do you use lemon in your recipes? Share with us at [email protected]