Kaffir lime leaves benefits & recipes

Know in one minute about kaffir lime leaves

  • Boost immunity and removes harmful radicals from the body.
  • Treat diabetes, diabetic cataract, and diabetic nephropathy (kidney-related complications).
  • Repel mosquito, cockroaches, and other insects.
  • Fight with bacteria of the oral and prevent tooth decay or cavities.
  • Treat pain and the mild infection of sore throat.
  • Decrease cholesterol level and swelling.

Introduction 

The kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix; family Rutaceae) is an herbal plant and popular due to its strong smell. The leaves, peel, essential oil, and juice are also used in traditional medicine. Kaffir lime leaves are, besides ginger and lemongrass, frequently used as aromatics and as spices in almost every dish. The leaves of kaffir lime trees are a dark green color with a glossy shine and are composed of two leaflets. It also maintains healthy teeth and gums and as a remedy for scurvy. Its leaves have been traditionally used to treat headaches, flu, fever, sore throats, bad breath, and indigestion. 

Common name

Kaffir lime, sometimes referred to as the makrut lime or leech lime or Mauritius papeda, makrut, or angel wings. It is also known as, jeruk purut, juuk purut, limau purut, ‘K-Leaves’, lime leaves, wild lime, or Thai lime. Some other names of this plant are Kieffer lime, Thai bergamot, and ma-grood.

Geographical distribution

It is native to temperate and tropical Asia, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The major component of kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime is a rich source of bioactive compounds with antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory activities. Based on these properties, Kaffir limes can be classified as a super fruit and stand out in exotic origin and taste. Kaffir lime leaves contain polyphenols, flavanols, flavonoids, saponin, glycoside, coumarine, bergamottin, and pinene and tannins (1).

Health benefits of kaffir lime leaves

1. Treat diabetic-cataract

Kaffir lime contains a rich amount of flavonoids that help to reduce blood glucose levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

It is also effective to prevent blurred vision, leakage of fluid, and protein in the eye. Thus these leaves are beneficial to attenuate diabetes and diabetic cataract that causes severe vision loss (2).

2. As a Repellent for mosquito and cockroaches

Kaffir lime leaf essential oil contains citronellol, citronellal, and limonene that fight against Aedes aegypti and Anopheles minimus (3).

Thus candles made from this oil can kill 90-100 % mosquitoes and protect from Dengue, Chikungunya as well as Yellow fever (4).

Apart from this oil is also effective to kill American cockroaches and German cockroaches (100%) thus show insecticidal properties (5).

3. Antimicrobial properties

Leaves extract of kaffir lime inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans that cause tooth decay or cavities (6 & 7).

Furthermore, essential oil from this leaves the fight against Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus sanguinis which result in an inflammatory condition of the oral cavity called periodontitis. Thus this extract prevents biofilm formation on the dental surface, reducing dental plaque, and decreasing the chance of dental caries (8).

4. Treat the respiratory infection

Kaffir lime leaves contain citronellal that fights against respiratory tract pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, and Haemophilus influenzae. Thus spray of this oil reduces the pain and the mild infection of a sore throat (9)

5. Anticancer properties

Leukemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow. This cancer is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. However, phytol and lupeol found in kaffir lime leaves help to inhibit the growth of this cancer cell (10). Moreover, kaffir lime leaf extract also shows anti-cancer effects against the human mouth, cervical, and neuroblastoma cells (11).

6. Antioxidant properties

Kaffir lime leaves are a rich source of flavonoids such as naringenin and hesperidin (12). These compounds are beneficial to remove harmful radicals from the body and enhance the immune system (13).

7. Lower cholesterol levels and good for the liver

Kaffir lime leaves, rhizomes of galangal, and lemongrass combination (1:2:1) are effective to lower blood cholesterol levels. It helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Moreover, it is also effective to reduce inflammation and fat accumulation in the liver (14).

8. Anti-inflammatory properties

Agrostophillinol found in kaffir lime leaves is effective to inhibit inflammatory cytokine production. Thus these leaves show a wonderful effect on the treatment of various diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic nephropathy (kidney-related complication) (15).

Side effect of kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime juices contain volatile compounds that may have potential allergic effects. Moreover, it also contains a large number of antioxidants may initiate allergic diseases

Risk of Phytophotodermatitis

Kaffir lime contains a compound known as psoralens that cause phytophotodermatitis (skin inflammation due to exposure to sunlight) (16). This was caused by the application of the juice as a folk remedy to ward off biting insects or superstitious beliefs. Thus precaution should be needed before application (17).

Q&A

What is the substitute for kaffir lime?

The substitute of kaffir lime leaves is the bay leaf, lemon-lime zest, lime juice, lemon thyme, and lemongrass alone and in combination. Moreover, you can use another citrus to replace these leaves however the taste is not the same as kaffir lime. 

Where to buy kaffir lime?

You can get fresh, dried, or frozen in Asian grocery stores or online. In short, it is best to buy frozen or dried leaves which can last up to six months.

Give some kaffir lime leaf recipes?

Kaffir lime leaves are best to use in cooking because it has a strong aroma and citrus flavor. Its juice, pulp also has a sour and bitter pungent taste that discourages people from eating raw.

Fresh leaves of kaffir lime can be used as a whole or by cutting the leaf from the middle section.  Then roll up and cut into very thin pieces, also use dried leaves to sprinkle over the dish. Kaffir lime leaves can be used in a variety of recipes, including soups and curries. Also, add in buttermilk during the summertime and noodle dishes.

1. Tom yum soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cup (1000 ml) water
  • Chicken broth or vegetables  (carrot or beans ¼ cup each chopped) 
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass (outer layer peeled and diced)
  • Galangal  (3-4 slices)
  • 4-5  kaffir lime leaves,
  • 2-3  red Chili  (crushed)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped )
  • 8 oz mushrooms (as per your choice )
  • 1 large tomato (diced ) 
  • White onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2  tablespoon oil
  • Coriander/cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt (as per taste)

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large pot; add garlic cloves and onion sauté for a minute.
  2. Add chili and lemongrass so they rupture open to release flavor.
  3. Then add mushrooms and chopped veggies for 3 minutes. 
  4. Add tomatoes and lime leaves saute for a minute.
  5. You can add chicken broth to the soup
  6. Then  add water  and bring to a boil
  7. Season with salt, sugar as per requirement and mix well.
  8. Cover the pot with the lid and simmer on low to medium flame till veggies are done
  9. Add lime juice, coriander/cilantro, and enjoy tom yum soup hot. 

2. Chicken rice with kaffir lime leaves

Ingredients

  • 2 cup pre-cooked rice
  • 2 -3 tbsp vegetable oil (olive or sesame oil)
  • 1 tbsp garlic finely grated
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 pound chicken cut into small pieces
  • Small white onion chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots grated
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves  (soaked in warm water) 
  • coriander a small bunch, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare the chicken: Chop the chicken into small 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the chicken and mix to combine. Set the chicken aside for about 10 minutes.
  2. Scramble the egg: Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil and add the whisked eggs. Quickly scramble the egg with a spatula, set aside. 
  3. Heat the oil in the large fry pan, stir-fry garlic and sauté onion peas and carrots for 1-2 min.
  4. Add the chicken and Kaffir Lime Leaves, and stir fry 3-4 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
  5. Now add egg, soy sauce, and stir-fry until the sauce is combined well.
  6. Keeping the flame on high, add cooked rice.
  7. Also, add 1 tsp pepper and ¼ tsp salt. Adjust the salt as soy sauce has salt.
  8. Remove from heat, add lime juice, coriander, red chili flakes, and serve.

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