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Monday, May 8, 2017

Kaffir Lime - 'Citrus hystrix' - fam: Rutaceae

The Kaffir lime, citrus hystrix, sometimes referred to in English as the Makrut lime, or Mauritius papeda, is a citrus fruit native of 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. 1

It grows on a thorny bush, 6 to 35 feet (1.8 to 10.7 mtrs) 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 cms (2 ins) wide.

The leaves are the most frequently used part of the plant, fresh, dried, or frozen. The leaves are widely used in Thai, where it is called 'bai ma gruut', 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 odor 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. 1

NOTE: The Arabic word 'kafir' means infidel, or non-believer. It is a slur against black people that Islamic Arabic traders used for Africans, that became 'kaffer', a slur used by the white population of South Africa akin to the slur "n****r" in the United States, and is considered to be highly offensive. The fruit is known more generally as a lime in Asia, or a makrut, mac-rit in the US, and mackroot in the UK - and there have been editorials and articles suggesting that the vendors of the seeds, limes, and leaves, use the name makrut, rather than kaffir. The Oxford Companion to Food recommends that the term 'makrut lime' be favoured over 'kaffir lime' because of the word's offensive connotations. 1

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1


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