Egyptian households preserve a large amount of lemons to be used throughout the year and handed out to friends and family. The lemons can be served as a condiment to any meal and may be placed in a bowl on the side, whole or sliced.
The yellow colour comes from the use of safflower, a more economical alternative to expensive saffron.
50g nigella seeds
1 tablespoon chilli powder, (optional)
1 litre fresh lemon juice, plus extra as needed
100ml olive oil
1. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, nigella seeds and safflower.
2. Cut the lemons in quarters vertically, without cutting all the way, so that the lemon pieces are all still attached,
3. Stuff each lemon with a pinch of the salt, nigella seeds and safflower mix and squeeze the lemon back together. Pack the lemons tightly together in sterilised jars (you can sterilise the jars by washing and drying in the oven at 180°C), cut side up.
4. Sprinkle over a few teaspoonfuls of the salt, nigella seeds and safflower mix, as well as some chilli, if using.
5. Once packed, pour in the lemon juice to reach half the height of the jar and to cover the lemons, then seal. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 days, or until the lemons have released their juices and the level of liquid has risen to the top of the jar. At this stage, open the jar and cover the surface with olive oil.
6. The lemons will be ready to eat 1 month after packing.