Kaffir or Makrut Lime Leaves


Kaffir or Makrut Lime Leaves are an essential part of Thai, Myanmarese and Laotian cooking. You would most commonly taste it in a Spicy Thai soup or curry and I particularly love the aroma and citrusy flavor it imparts. Known for a long time as Kaffir Lime, the Thai name “bai makrut” is now considered the much more politically correct term, as “Kaffir” in Arabic means “unbeliever” and as such, Kaffir can have derogatory implications. When we moved into the house that we currently occupy, a good friend and previous neighbor gave us a small “Makrut” plant that has since grown to over 8 feet tall! Thus I have a fresh supply of Makrut leaves whenever I need it. The leaves have a very distinctive shape, almost like two leaves mutantly merged together. I have grafted several plants from my mother tree and given them to friends, planted it at the beach, and even gave a plant or two to Gil Carandang, the guy from Herbana Farms at the Salcedo Saturday market. I have also noticed that some of the specialty delis in Manila have started selling dried Makrut Lime leaves that are a substitute for fresh…though I do truly prefer the leaves when fresh, a bright to dark green and incredibly fragrant. So good do they smell that they attract those seriously large caterpillars with a vengeance and once or twice a year I am out in the yard murdering would be butterflies or moths as they hungrily consume my precious Makrut Lime leaves…

I have never had a Makrut lime fruit (maybe there are no other Markuts in the neighborhood to hook up with) in the past 6 years (a knobbly kinda ugly looking dark green lime with almost no juice) but that’s okay, the leaves will do me just fine… The zest of the fruit is spectacularly flavorful and used in curries, soups, etc. But avoid the white pith as it is incredibly bitter. Without this herb (leaves or lime), your Thai cooking will definitely be missing a critical ingredient…


44 Responses

  1. You are absolutely correct there is no comparison with fresh leaves over the dried ones. The fresh leaves freeze up well too but ensure before you stick them in the freezer they are dry and clean free from environmental pollutants. They are also great in satay marinate and sauce. Thai curry whether green or red tastes great with the addition of makrut leaves and Thai basil. I use the jarred Thai red curry. I favor red curry over green. I usually make chicken curry but now I switch to firm tofu. I like it a lot!

  2. Hi Marketman. Thanks for the info. Anyway, I’m a Filipino chef working at a modern Thai restaurant in Melbourne, Australia and one of the first things I had to learn when I started working there was how to slice the kaffir lime leaves(the larger one of the two) into thread-like thinness. (I’ve bought a Japanese knife since then.) I’d normally stack several leaves together as you would when you chiffonade basil and slice them crosswise. We use them on all cold entrees (a bit sparingly cos of its strong flavor) including those mixes that you find on betel leaves. The shorter half cos of their thick veins are used for curries which we all make from scratch. But that’s another story.

    Don’t worry about the fruit cos at this place where we hardly threw anything; we always ended up throwing them cos we didn’t have any use for them. We just use the zest for making curry pastes.

    By the way, do you mind sharing Gil Carandang’s e-mail address with me if you have it? I met him at one of those food exhibits but I lost his business card. Thanks again.

  3. I love the aroma of these! pricey at Php10 per leaf at the market (i have no idea why it’s so expensive) but good thing we’ve got a tree too ü

  4. Maria Clara, yes, fresh is indeed best! Audie, I did a post on Herana farms many months ago, here is the link, there is a link to their website at the end of that post, you can probably reach Gil that way. Nikita, the trees are few and far between here in the Philippines, and so few except Thai restaurants buy it in large quantities, so they still cost a lot. Any farmers out there? Plant about 100 trees and you would be a major producer of this high priced (for now) herb…

  5. Yes,kaffir lime leaves is an essential part of my curry dishes.
    Here in Canberra they are easy to get at our fresh food markets so i do not need to freeze them unless I get a lot.

    Unfortunately I can’t get fresh coconut cream so a tinned one will have to do.But my curries are still yummy heheheeheheheh.

  6. Thanks for giving Gil Carandang some saplings because now we can get fresh leaves from him! :) I’m so happy about that :) The smell is really out of this world! I still have a bottle of dried thought from Spices and Flavors. Did you see the fresh galangal in Rustans? I think Gil may have it too…

  7. joey, I have galangal in the garden as well…it is really easy to grow… great in Indonesian soups/curries… ThePseudoshrink, I suppose all limes are ultimately related, however, for some mutant reason, the leaves of the Makrut are the thing that has the flavor… I am not sure if dayap leaves are also used in cooking…I wonder… Socky, sometimes, Herbana farms used to carry it but I haven’t seen it lately… I think they are still making their few trees get a lot bigger before they graft or make cuttings…

  8. We just started planting vegetables(patola, ampalaya and cucumber)at the back of the office by using huge pots. It’s exciting to see fruits hanging all over the place. A stress relieving hobby. I was thinking to collect herbs too… Lets see what we can collect…

  9. My mom just got back from Bangkok and brought home some dried herbs and spices for me. As I sorted out my loot this noon while cooking some curry, I was wondering how I could perhaps get my hands on some fresh fresh kaffir lime leaves. Well, I found the answer to my question. Thanks MM!

  10. MM, Howdy. You are correct, we are growing galanggal for months now in Herbana. We will have them available in our booth from now on. Same with the Kaffir Lime leaves. Again, thank you for the Kaffir plant you gave, it is doing well in the farm. Hope to see you at our booth again.

  11. Hi RT Gonzales, Im interested to buy kaffir lime seedling so I can plant them in my garden. I like Thai foods thats why I planted galangal and corrianders however kaffirs are hard to find even in Market Market. Where’s Herbana ? Do you have one available, how much? Thanks

  12. i saw kaffir lime seedlings in MANILA SEEDLING BANK. only one garden store sells it there and price is around p1000 a year ago.

  13. i will have KAFFIR LIME leaves starting this week.

    i will price it p 9/ leaf

  14. Joel,

    We just ran out again of kaffir leaves, a buyer is currently booking all the leaves weekly. I am calling on my other supplier. Please drop by our booth this saturday. We don’t sell the plant, leaves only.

  15. OMG! I work in Manila and our office is in an old house by the river. I had a suspicion that the tree at the back was kaffir lime but no one else at the office knew what a kaffir lime was. Then I read this post…wow, there is a kaffir lime tree at my office’s backyard! Short of getting a tree vet to ball up the tree, smuggle it out of the grounds and transport it to my home, how else do I get my own lime tree? Will cuttings grow? HELP!(seedlings are way too expensive for me and here’s my chance to get one free!)

  16. CecileJ, how lucky you are. If you find a smallish branch say about 1-2 feet long, scrape the base of the branch near where it branches out just a little (like a skin scrape wound on a human), then cover with say 3 cups full of damp soil and wrap this part with plastic and tie it up and let the roots form for say 6-8 weeks. Then, cut the branch and transfer to a pot of soil, burying the end of the branch. Let this settle and grow in the pot for a few months before thinking of transplanting it. If the makrut lime is a mature tree, you should be able to marcot several little trees and the large tree will not feel worse for wear… good luck!

  17. Thank you, MM! I will surely let you know if I am successful!…And maybe even share a seedling or two with the Market Manila “family” of bloggers. (Door prize for the next eyeball maybe?)

  18. I consider myself to be fortunate enough for having successfully grown four kaffir lime plants (from seeds) that are about 3 months old now. However, I think they are growing so slowly and I’m not sure whether I should change the soil that they’re planted in or what fertilizer to use. By the way, they already have three or four leaves each. Please, anybody, advise me how to care for my little kaffir plants. Thanks.

  19. Edwin, I am utterly amazed that you have grown the kaffir lime from SEEDS! they do grow quite slowly so I would be patient. However, I have noticed others use a very healthy soil mix including compost to help the plants along. The pots should be quite large so you don’t need to keep transplanting…good luck with them, they are pricey when just 2-3 feet in height and bushy…

  20. I’m selling fresh kaffir lime leaves. Give me a price then we’ll see how. Just send an SMS to 09279022034

  21. Hi Jay, Are you a supplier for Kaffir leaves? I want to open a thai restaurant and need large quantities of Kaffir leaves on a regular basis. Anyone know of a supplier that gives it at a reasonable price?

  22. Hi,

    where can i buy kaffir lime leaves here in the Philippines? I need it for personal use/cooking only. thanks.

  23. joyce, they sometimes sell the leaves at weekend markets, try the Herbana farms booth at the Salcedo market on Saturdays. Rustans Rockwell also has a good herb selection particularly on the weekends, and sometimes carries Makrut lime leaves. Santis also sometimes carries them dried. If you cook Thai/Indochinese food often, it might be worth it to buy a plant. I have a couple in my garden and I have all the fresh leaves I need…

  24. You can have your own lime tree. Selling some 6-7 ft. tall in pots. Great for cooking and landscaping. Grown from Thai fruits. If interested reach me at 0917-791-0480.

  25. hi again. i have just learned that makrut scientific name is citrus hystrix (unconfirmed) and the mindanao biasong is citrus hystrix var micrantha. i have not yet seen what a biasong tree or plant looks like but i am assuming it would resemble a makrut tree. does anyone here use the leaf of the biasong for cooking, much like a makrut’s? i also heard that the makrut is a native plant in quezon (also unconfirmed)locally named kubot, assuming because of its wrinkled rind skin.

    i was told that biasong comes in sackfuls in davao markets but i went to the bangkerohan market this january, only a stall sells biasong and most davao residents i asked does not even know abou the plant.

  26. If its in Davao… It might be a close relative or if not it could be the Kaffir Lime tree itself. After all Davao is almost a stone’s throw away from Menado, Indonesia

  27. Hi MM and regulars of these site,

    This is my first time leaving a comment here. Ive been an avid reader of this great website (more power!!!). I am planning on putting up a small Thai resto in Palawan since we dont have one there and I want to share the great taste of Thai food to the Palawenos. MM can I buy a tree from you so that I can plant it in Puerto Princesa? I really want to offer my menu at a low price so Im looking for ways in reducing ingredient cost. Ive already planted galangal here na and kaffir na lang ang kulang. :) you can email me at anthony_palanca@yahoo.com if pwede. Thank you.

  28. Hello, I also sell makrut plants (grown from seed, so they will also bear fruit) and fruit/leaves at a negotiable price since we already have a full grown tree =) Please contact me at 09165607513.

  29. Just came across this blog. I know biasong and it does have wrinkly fruits. I have my own 10 feet plant somewhere in the garden and unfortunately it has never bear any fruit which is the reason why i didn’t know the biasong and kaffir were almost the same.

    For those trying to get a plant, you can also buy some at the Lung Center weekend market. Cuttings can also be grown but the success rate depends on how careful you are growing them. I never knew the leaves were this expensive.

    CecileJ, I hope you found a kaffir tree and not a pomelo as both can have similar looking leaves, the pomelo just a little bit bigger

  30. I live at Clark Angeles. I would like to buy a kaffir lime tree. do you know where I can buy a small tree?

  31. hello, i’m new to this site. i’d like to purchase a kaffir plant/seedling. pls. email me with prices. thanks =)

  32. thanks, i’m new to manila, where do i find the manila seedling bank? i have lots of kaffir leaves my mom-inlaw sent me from cali, but unfortunately she couldn’t send me a plant d/t customs. =(

  33. Hi! i came across this blog because i was looking for this kabuyaw/makrut/kaffir lime plant since i badly needed this for my clearance in one of our subjects in school..can anyone help me find one here in metro manila?and kindly email me the prices too..thanks!

  34. I frequently travel Visayas and Mindanao area due to to the nature of my work. I just want to inquire what is the local name of kaffir lime because if it calls for biasong, I can supply a lot of seeds and also ripe fruits.

    Actually here in Visayan Island we had 3 kinds of citrus which has a leaves like kaffir lime. They are SUWA ( which resembles kaffir lime fruit on foreign blogs),the biasong which has also same leaves but the fruits is somewhat oblong and has a pointed at the bottom of the fruit like the lime. And the last is what they call in Negros as limon but in Cebu it is called samuyao somewhat smaller compared to suwa. Now it puzzles me a lot. Those citrus are all in my collection and I can supply seeds for those citrus mention above. All I can say is those citrus has a smell like lemon grass.

    Those 3 citrus are different from lemonsito, mandarin, ukban and kulo which I also have.

  35. Hi

    i just got to learn of this new site today. I am growing kaffir lime and into propagation as well. I am now tring to propagate as much as i can. Will inform you all as soon as i am ready to sell. At the moment i have several trees but it is purely for propagation purposes at the moment

  36. I would like to freeze kaffir lime leaves. Could anyone tell me how I should do this ? Is it better to freeze them whole or to chop them ? Also, should I defreeze them to use them, or do you use them directly in cooking ? Thanks for your assistance.



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