Kaffir Lime has distinctive bright green, glossy leaves with a divided hourglass shape. The leaves have a sweet, enigmatic fragrance that has been likened to a sophisticated citrus perfume.
Kaffir Lime is an essential ingredient in many South East Asian dishes, including Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Burmese cooking. The leaves are usually torn or roughly chopped into the mix during cooking, then removed before eating, although salads and garnishing call for the leaves to be thinly shredded and eaten fresh.
It is the essential oil in Kaffir Lime that gives it such a unique scent, and it is also the oil that is most useful for health. It has a naturally soothing effect on mind and body and will improve digestive processes as well as reducing stress.
Kaffir Lime is a hardy herb that will retain its freshness in the fridge, where it should be stored in the original punnet. It can be dried for storage by placing the leaves on a plate or in a paper bag and keeping in a cool, dry, dark place for a few days. It can also be frozen by placing in a zip-lock bag as is. Seal and freeze overnight.
Culture and History
Kaffir Lime is native to tropical Asia. The leaves, zest and fruit are all used for culinary purposes, however it is the leaf that is most popular in cooking. There is contention over the use of the name Kaffir, as it is derived from a historically racist term. The name Makrut has been put forward as an alternative, which is how the herb is known in Thailand.