Makrut / Kaffir Lime
Have you ever tried the Kaffir Lime? They are sometimes called “Keiffer lime”, “Thai lime” or “Wild lime”. For those who haven’t tried them it is not generally the juice which is used but the leaf and zest of the fruit which are very fragrant and give an unique flavour much enjoyed in Asian cooking and particularly Thai, Cambodian and Indonesian cooking. Other citrus species don’t have the same result. The leaves can be used whole but it is better to slice them finely to better impart the flavour. They can be used in salads or cooked with soups, stir fries, curries etc. Experiment and find out which way you like them. The juice can be used as for the normal lime but it is a bit stronger in flavour. We have put one kaffir lime fruit into a lemon marmalade and it gives a delicious zing to the flavour.
The tree plays a very important role in Asian people’s lives as it doesn’t just supply the great flavours but is an effective cleanser and deodoriser. Kaffir lime shampoo is wonderful for the hair and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The juice acts as a bleach for stains and promotes gum health. The oils are used in various ointments and the rind is believed to be good for the blood and digestive system.
The tree is a many branched, smaller growing citrus which has an unusual “double” leaf. With budded trees there are virtually no prickles but seedlings can be quite thorny. I find that the plant makes a very good tub plant as it is so compact. This means you can have it growing near the door and have fresh leaves to hand at all times. The fruit are about the size of golf balls, dark green, with an unusual bumpy surface.
This is a plant of many purposes, well worth a try in any garden.