Kaffir Lime

Kaffir Lime (Citrus hystrix)

Kaffir lime leaves and to a lesser extent, fruit rind, is an essential ingredient in Thai, Indonesian, Indian and Malaysian cuisines.

Flavor

Kaffir lime leaves have a lingering yet delicate citrus flavor. The rind of the fruit is slightly bitter.  Both leaves and rind quickly lose their flavor when dried, so it’s best to use fresh if available. 

Aroma

Kaffir lime leaves have a fresh, aromatic, explosive fragrance which is floral and citrus-like.

Pairing

Kaffir lime leaves are used in many Thai, Indonesia and Malaysian curries, soups, salads and stir fries. The rind is also used in curry pastes and fish cakes. You can remove whole leaves from the dish before serving (similar to how you would use bay leaves) or shred finely if using as a garnish. Kaffir lime loves fish, seafood, mushrooms, noodles, pork, chicken, rice, coconut milk and vegetables. It pairs well with Thai basil, chili3, coriander, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and star anise.

Growing

Kaffir lime trees are propagated from seed or grafting. The trees are native to Southeast Asia however are now grown in Florida, California and Australia. Kaffir lime frees grow to 13-16 feet and are shrubby with dark green, glossy leaves. The fruit come from fragrant, white flavors and have bumpy, wort-like green skin.  The trees perform best when planted in a warm position, in well-drained soil and watered regularly. Feed trees with liquid seaweed.

History

Kaffir lime is native to Southeast Asia. Its name might originate in colonial usage and some cooks prefer to it by its Thai name, makrut lime. In Malaysia, limau purut is its common name which is  possibly named as the rough fruit looks like the rough knobs over crocodile’s eyes.

Medicinal

Kaffir lime tea, similar to lemon tea, can help with relief from coughs, colds, sinus and chest congestion. Kaffir lime tea can also help aid digestion. The juice is used in Thai ointments and shampoos and Malaysian tonics.

Facts about Kaffir Lime

Kaffir lime seeds (from inside the fruit) are high in pectin and can help setting jams. Crush the seed or tie in a muslin bag and add to jam during the cooking process.