it's saturday so it must be salcedo.

salcedo foxy pinwheel

i am nothing if not predictable about my routine in manila. i usually take the friday flight right after work in guam, and arrive in makati just before most of the restaurant kitchens close. saturdays start early with a couple errands, and then off to the market at salcedo village.

salcedo kiat kiat

predictable, but considering the variety of food and produce available, not exactly boring. and not particularly expensive either--the current rate of exchange is about 49 pesos to the US$1, so i can usually get a great meal and enough fruit for the weekend for about US$5. la-la-love a (relative) bargain, baby.

salcedo indian mango salcedo japanese melon

i was looking at photos from produce markets at tableau vivante and she who eats, and thinking that i'll never get such gorgeous artichokes nor delicate tulips here, but then again, i don't think frost damage is ever really a concern for the local crops, either.

salcedo bananas

salcedo rice cakes

salcedo green orbs

salcedo spice and surprise

and it never fails, i always find something new. spices 'n flavours run a stall there, with a small but fairly intensive selection of their merchandise. i picked up a small tumbleweed of dried oregano, and a packet of kasubha (Carthamus dentatus Blanco), which is similar to saffron but not (used much the same way, though); it was there i noticed a steel bowl filled with these almost coal-like fruit fossils labelled "black lemons."

salcedo black lemons and kasubha

preserved lemon, certainly, and a little interrogation of the shopgirl revealed it is from india, but no recipes were offered. has anyone ever used black lemon? does anyone out there know how? anyone? anyone?




I am not exactly sure, but I think the black lemon is 'kudampuli' which is added to fish curries for tang.
It certainly looks like it.

gineesha, thank you for your help! is kudampuli used whole (as is), or is it crumbled, made into a powder, or rehydrated?

You are very lucky to be able to travel a lot. You get to experience and see so many things. Yung iba nga sa picture mo ngayon ko lang nakita :) At least thru your blog I get to see the other side of the world...

hello anne! i am very fortunate...but i think we're mostly on the same side of the world still :) that's okay by me.

The black lemones are used extensively in persian cuisine, either whole (with holes pricked in them) or as powder. I'm afraid I don't have any recipes available online atm. :)

I have fun searching for black lemon references and clues to the spiny green things. What kind of texture did the black lemons have? Could they be dried lemons? How big are they and those spiny green things? What a fun time you must have:)

To answer your question from another post, no, I haven't been doing much baking since the holidays. But I have a ton of bananas ripe on the tree and houseguests coming, so I think it's time. Speaking of the guests, do you know if they can bring me some treats from California? Like hard cheeses? What about meyer lemons? I don't want my mom to get in trouble with customs!

ea, thanks for the information. i'd like to try cooking persian food one day--using the whole black lemon makes it sound even more intriguing.

hi acornbud! yes, what are those spiny green things? i think they are related to the chinese lantern plant. the green orbs are roughly the size of a black lemon, coincidentally. like a ping pong ball. wait. i haven't seen a ping pong ball in awhile. but i'll go with that.

the black lemons are definitely dried, they seem sort of brittle. i didn't pick one up though. i don't know if they've been dipped or preserved with anything either.

i did, i did have fun! i usually do in manila. big city. tons to do.

hi beatrice! cheeses allowed by US customs are any that are vacuumed packed and pasteurized, no raw milk varieties. unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables are not allowed; however, i know that there are exceptions. i have brought in mangoes that are peeled, cut and de-seeded. i'm thinking that if she juices them or vacuum seals the de-seeded flesh she'll be okay. i don't know if your mom wants to go through that trouble!

My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.

Can't tell you anything about the black lemons, though...

jeanne, omigod, you're dying??

that's okay about the lemons. thanks for the laugh, though :)

hello.love your blog.i am from persia and we use it in our stew alot.my mum makes a stew which is tomatoe based, together with red split lentils and potatoes and black lemons.you have to cook them very gently for a long time and depending how you like it you can eat the soft black lemons with or without the skin but would eat the seed , mind you they are not dangerous to my knowledge.they give the dish a tangy flavour.serve it with basmati rice and a saffron topping.hope this is a help.regards beta

Yes! If someone can tell us what the spiny green things are, I'd like to know. I'm a botanist and it's nothing I recognize...

I love the pictures of your market.
This would be a great idea for a trip around the world markets...hmmmmm.

I guess I was wrong about the lemon being Kudampuli. Looks like it is a Persian spice from the comments.
FYI kudampuli looks kind of dried peels and just before adding to fish curry, you soak it in some salt water.

mahek from india
i just loved your market picture pls share some more with us , as we might not get to come there personally but visually we can be there.
i havent seen a black lemon in india unless its called something else but i havent seen anything like that in goa which is my home state we have small fruits called
cocum which are red but turn black when dried they are used as souring agent sometimes.
keep posting about markets and your unique vegetables

beta, that sounds delicious...i'm going to have to buy some of those black lemons now!

monique, yes! i have no idea. although they look like they could be related to chinese lanterns.

bill, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. a world market trip would be amazing!

gineesha, i wonder if i can use these black lemons the way you use kudampuli. they both sound equally fascinating.

mahek, thank you for visiting. i will have more photos the next time i go to a market!

I've mentioned to the owners of Spices and Flavours that they need to provide some kind of reference material for the ingredients they sell. They had thyme water recently, but they had no card/note about what it was used for. And don't even try asking the shopgirls, I don't think they cook.

hello mila--you're right about the shopgirls, i get the feeling they are just humouring me sometimes. thyme water? didn't the egyptians use that in embalming??

Hi Santos :) My friend who used to work in Saudi Arabia uses it in her rice dishes and some stews...

hello chichajo, i guess i really just have to buy one and experiment! i love the idea of adding it to some sort of pilaf, or maybe a tomato-based stew....

Hi there,

While I don't know much about the origins of the mysterious lemon (Indian, I hear, or Persian), I do use it for a nice dish: I grind two or three up, and mix with lukewarm (cooked) Basmati rice, some crumbled Feta cheese, lots of scallions, a bit of rosemary and thyme and baked, cubed Squash. It's great, and the lemon gives it all a pleasing, sour finish.
Thanks for this interesting post!

ooh! i loved that black lemon.. while i was living with my persian ex he would use it lots in meat stews and weird fry ups with tomatoe sauce and french fries.. so good and tangy and yum! that and dried cranberries in the saffron rice. omg good!

Hi Santos, I found your blog completely by chance when searching on "black lemons" -- I just got some from a friend who traveled to Saudi Arabia but had not idea what to do with them. I chewed on a little piece and decided it would add sour flavor to a dish. So I made an Indian-flavor lamb stew with a simmering sauce of blended tomato, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, ginger, salt, and chiles ... and one-half of a black lemon. The lemon gave a delicious, slightly sour flavor. But next time I'll know to crush it with my spices! :-)

hello pamarama, thank you for sharing your recipe, it sounds delicious! lemony lamb. mmmm.