The kaffir or makrut lime tree is grown mainly for its unusual-looking double-pointed strongly scented leaves. The trees bear fragrant warty-looking fruit which can be zested like regular limes, although they don’t contain much juice. Excess lime leaves can be frozen in a sealed plastic bag but thereafter they’re only good for cooking as they tend to discolour and go limp once thawed. Fresh leaves can be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2–3 weeks.
The fresh leaves smell somewhat sweeter than lime zest – sharp, citrusy and clean. With the centre ribs removed, they can be rolled and sliced exceedingly thin for adding to uncooked dishes, or turned into a dust in a small spice grinder. Whole leaves can be added to curries, stuffed inside fish or floated in soups. If fresh leaves aren’t available, use lime or lemon zest instead.
Photography by Julie Biuso