Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kaffir lime leaves are used readily in Southeast Asian cuisine, bringing with them a strong (and somewhat unsurprising) lime flavour. They’re both floral and citrusy to taste, bringing an aromatic freshness to the dishes they populate.
Kaffir lime also goes by the name makrut lime – a title which is growing in popularity due to the connotations associated with the word kafir, which means non-believer in Arabic and which was widely used as a racial slur by colonialists in Africa in the 20th century.
The leaves offer huge medicinal benefits, from detoxifying the blood, improving digestion and promoting oral health. Next time you happen to be cooking up a Thai storm, rub a leaf onto your gums to test it out (or just add it as a garnish to your G&T, that’s close enough right?). The benefits seem endless, with the juice from the lime even used to treat male pattern baldness and seeing as distillation extracts all of the essential oils from a product, a gin with a kaffir lime leaf present is pretty much a health drink. Pretty much…
Although it is possible to distil the fruit, the peel or the leaves, it is the latter that tends to be chosen for gin. Once distilled it plays on this dual nature that makes it so sought after in both cooking – slightly herbal and citrus in equal measure. It makes for an ideal “bridge” botanical to go from juniper’s sometimes medicinal nature to more lively citrus. Crucially, in the ensemble of flavours lime leaves can also provide the illusion of citrus at a later period of the flavour experience (much like coriander seed) as opposed to upfront alongside lemon, orange or lime peel.
Gins in which kaffir lime leaves are noticeable to taste:
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