Called makrut in Thailand, the fruits and leaves of the kaffir lime are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Both leaves and fruit rind emit an intense citrusy aroma. The fruit juice is sour just like the juice of lime from the northern hemisphere.
Kaffir lime leaves are often used to flavor soups and stews. Notice how they come in pairs. The aroma and flavor of the leaves are unique and many cooks, myself included, swear that there simply are no substitutes for kaffir lime leaves.
When buying kaffir lime leaves, note that they are known by different names.
- Burma: shauk-nu, shauk-waing
- Cambodia: krauch soeuch
- China: ning meng ye (Mandarin), fatt-fung-kam (Cantonese), Thài-kok-kam (Hokkien/Min Nan)
- Indonesia: jeruk purut, jeruk limo, jeruk sambal
- Laos: makgeehoot
- Malaysia: limau purut
- Philippines: Kubot
- Reunion Island: combava
- Sri Lanka: kahpiri dehi, odu dehi, kudala-dehi
- Thailand: makrut, som makrud
In the Philippines, fresh kaffir lime leaves are sold as a gourmet ingredient and the price will make your eyes pop. Dried leaves are somewhat cheaper. In our case, we just pinch the leaves off our tree.
Yes, we have a kaffir lime tree in the garden. A constant source of joy. That’s what the fruits look like. Bumpy skin and the rind is thick. We harvest the fruits while they are still green but soft enough to be squeezed lightly. Once the skin turns yellow, the juice dries up fast.
A few recipes with kaffir lime leaves:
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup Cooked with Coconut Cream and Galangal)
- Thai-inspired Fish Roe Soup
- Coconut Lime Chicken
- Vegetable Curry
- Indonesian / Malaysian Beef Rendang
How have we used the kaffir lime fruit?
- How to Make Lemongrass and Citrus Zest Infused Simple Syrup
- Strawberry lemonade with kaffir lime syrup
- Kaffir Lime Juice Mimosa
Updated from two posts published in February 8, 2009 and May 20, 2015