Thursday, 30 March 2017

ALL ABOUT KAFFIR LIMES

“Every era has its own list of ingredients that are considered exotic and then, 15 years later, they’re not.” - Yotam Ottolenghi 

The makrut lime (Citrus hystrix), sometimes referred to in English as the kaffir lime or Mauritius papeda, is a citrus fruit native to tropical Asia, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Its fruit and leaves are used in Southeast Asian cuisine and its essential oil is used in perfumery. Its rind and crushed leaves emit an intense citrus fragrance.

It should be noted that term makrut lime favoured over “kaffir lime” because kaffir is an offensive term in some cultures and has no contemporary justification for being attached to this plant. The etymology of the name “kaffir lime” is uncertain, but most likely was used by Muslims as a reference to the location the plant grew, which was populated by non-Muslims. The Arabic word for non-Muslims is kafir. 

Citrus hystrix is a thorny bush, 1.8 to 10.7 m tall, with aromatic and distinctively shaped “double” leaves. These hourglass-shaped leaves comprise the leaf blade plus a flattened, leaf-like stalk (or petiole). The fruit is rough and green, and ripens to yellow; it is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size, approximately 4 cm wide. Citrus hystrix is grown worldwide in suitable climates as a garden shrub for home fruit production. It is well suited to container gardens and for large garden pots on patios, terraces, and in conservatories.

The leaves are the most frequently used part of the plant, fresh (most preferred!), dried, or frozen. The leaves are widely used in Thai and Lao cuisine (for dishes such as tom yum) and Cambodian cuisine (for the base paste “krueng”). The leaves are used in Vietnamese cuisine to add fragrance to chicken dishes and to decrease the pungent odour when steaming snails. The leaves are used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese cuisine and Javanese cuisine) for foods such as soto ayam and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian and Burmese cuisines. It is used widely in South Indian cuisine. The rind (peel) is commonly used in Lao and Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavor. The zest of the fruit, referred to as combava, is used in creole cuisine to impart flavor in infused rums and rougails in Martinique, Réunion, and Madagascar. In Cambodia, the entire fruit is crystallised/candied for eating.

The juice and rind of the fruit are used in traditional medicine in some Asian countries; the fruit juice is often used in shampoo and is believed to kill head lice. The juice finds use as a cleanser for clothing and hair in Thailand and very occasionally in Cambodia. Lustral water mixed with slices of the fruit is used in religious ceremonies in Cambodia.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of this plant means: “Your beauty is exotic and beguiling”. A flowering sprig indicates: “You are beautiful, modest and accomplished.” Fruits included in floral arrangements carry the message: “Your accomplishments are even greater than your beauty.”

This post is partof the Floral Friday meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

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