What are Makrut Lime Leaves?
with Stephanie Bullen
July 24, 2014
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Romeo asked more than 400 years ago. It’s a question that has likely been asked since the beginning of modern language. And it’s a question that we recently had to ask ourselves as well.
If you are a long time customer, you’ve likely seen and tasted our premium lime leaves. These aromatic leaves add a distinctive lime flavor to some of our favorite handcrafted spice blends like Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning, Barrier Reef Caribbean Style Seasoning, Red Thai Curry, and Thai Green Curry. For nearly ten years we have sold these as Kaffir lime leaves, which is their common industry name and a name widely used in grocery stores and restaurants.
As an industry leader in fresh ground spices and handcrafted seasonings, and as a company that truly cares about our customers, we have chosen to rename this product to makrut lime leaves. Makrut (pronounced mah-krut) is the Thai word used to describe the bumpy-skinned lime that bears the leaves we have come to love. We have a unique opportunity to act as a catalyst for positive change and wanted to share the reasoning for our decision.
It has come to our attention that in certain areas of the world, the word 'Kaffir' is a racial slur. It’s rarely used as an isolated insult but rather as a tool of oppression. We feel strongly that using this word, with such an inflammatory and derogatory meaning, is unacceptable. To upset even one customer by using this word in a product name was never our intention and is cause for change.
In South Africa and other countries, this plant is known as k-lime. The Oxford Companion to Food recommends that the name Kaffir lime should be avoided in favor of makrut lime because Kaffir is an offensive term in certain cultures, and also has no clear reason for being attached to this plant. Current campaigns are striving to change the widespread use of ‘Kaffir’ in the food industry.
While we consistently strive to educate our customers about herbs, spices, and their uses, in the interactive environment of our stores, sometimes it’s our customers who educate us. People from different backgrounds, cultures, and even different generations share their personal experiences with food and cooking every day in our shops across the country. It is in the spirit of this cross-cultural education that we have decided to make this product name change and why we take this issue very seriously.
The fragrant lime you have come to know and love is the same high-quality product we have always carried, just by a different name. You will now find these products available in our stores as makrut lime leaves and makrut lime powder. And we have just added a brand new product to this line: Makrut Lime Sea Salt. For years, customers have requested a lime salt and we are very excited to deliver this double infused salt, which packs a flavor punch!
We’ve heard some great ideas for using our new Makrut Lime Sea Salt: sprinkling it on watermelon, rimming a margarita glass, seasoning grilled fish, and adding chili powder for a chili lime salt. Try it to add a citrusy zip to Mango Urfa Salsa or as a finishing salt on Chia Tequila Shortbread. We’d love to hear your recipes for this perfect-for-summer finishing salt! If you have any recipe ideas, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.