Herbs: Limes and Kaffir Limes


The fruit of lime contains Hesperidin and Naringin, which are antiinflammatory flavinoids. Lime juice is an appetiser, with antitussive, antiflu, stomachic and antiscorbutie properties. What a little powerhouse!

Lime juice is somewhat more “green” in taste than the lemon, and can be used interchangeably in most dishes. I prefer limes over lemons in most recipes, except desserts.

Unlike in Australia, most SE Asian countries make distinctions are made between different kinds of lime, as the subtle differences in flavour is important.

In India, there is also a sweet lime, somewhat like a mandarin in size and colour, which is wonderful in juice drinks. Traditionally, lime juice is mixed with a sugar syrup for a great drink in hot weather. Wonderful drunk at sunset on the beach in Goa.

Lemons and limes in India are named the same, so it is a good practice to check Indian recipes to see which is needed.

In Indonesia, the Kaffir Lime is most preferred.

Kaffir Lime (fruit and leaves)

The fruit of the Kaffir Lime is knobbly with little juice and a little zest, but has a strong citrus fragrance and flavouring, as have the leaves. The double leaf of the kaffir lime has a delightfully pungent lime-like scent.

They are native to SE Asia and are used extensively in those cuisines. The pungent rind of the kaffir lime is grated over salads, soups and curries. It is also used in dishes and in curry pastes and a range of other cooking pastes. Leaves left whole and added to food cooked in liquids, including broths and soups, or finely shredded and added to salads, curries and other dishes.

Kaffir lime leaves are available fresh, frozen or dried. Fresh leaves are available from specialty greengrocers and Asian food stores, and they freeze well in airtight bags. Dried leaves are available from Asian food stores, but can only be added to foods which are simmered to allow the flavour to be released.

The leaves of standard limes or lemons are not suitable as a substitute for Kaffir lime leaves – use the zest of lime or lemon as an acceptable substitute.

If Kaffir limes are not available, standard limes or lemons may be use for rind and juice, bearing in mind that the flavour is not quite the same.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Spice information here. Or you might like to browse our Indian Essentials series here. Check out our easy Lemon and Lime recipes here and here.

Browse some of the Spices information