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Makrut Limes - The Citrus that looks like a Brain

Last week, we were strolling through the wet markets in Singapore and came across a citrus fruit that had a skin that made me think of a brain. We got so excited and made jokes about it until the shopkeeper asked “Do you know what is it?” We froze and looked at each other, laughed, and said “Nope! No clue!”.

Makrut lime is native to Southeast Asia. Most of us are familiar with Makrut lime under a different name called kaffir lime.

The thorny bush from where you pick the rather rough and green fruit called makrut lime also grows a more recognised aromatic and distinctly ‘double’ shaped leaves that we all know as a ‘kaffir lime leaf.’

Kaffir limes are very fragrant tropical citrus fruit that is indispensable in Thai, Lao, Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. It is not because of the juice but for its rich aromatic peel and more for the “double shaped” leaves. Both kaffir lime leaf and zest have characteristic flavour profiles that not only found their use in the culinary world but in perfumery and many other industries.

I’m amazed at all its cultural uses. My favourites - add few leaves to your bath to scent or bruise a few leaves and add to your homemade potpourri.

Another favourite, living in Singapore where it is sunny and hot all year long, I have fallen in love with sorbets, and here is one based on the Makrut lime.

Kaffir Lime Sorbet

750 ml still water Pinch of salt 12 pcs of kaffir lime leaves 100 ml fresh calamansi juice 250 gm caster sugar (add amounts as your preference) 2 pcs freshly and finely grated lime rind

  1. Combine water, salt, sugar, and bruised lime leaves in a saucepan and bring to a simmer on low heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves.

  2. Once the leaves change colour to a dull olive-green take the saucepan off the heat, strain the kaffir lime leaves of the liquid and let it cool down in an ice-cold water bath.

  3. Once the mixture is cold or room temperature put it into the refrigerator.

  4. Once the mixture is cold add calamansi juice to your liking and separate in molds and put it into the freezer overnight.

  5. Check on it every few hours and scrape the crystals from the top of the frozen sorbet.

  6. Once frozen, enjoy on its own or use it in cocktails.

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