Mild cough, snuffly nose and a bit achy-all-over on an unusually cool, rainy, August northern-Thai morning, I wandered out to the clothes line to rescue the soggy debris of yesterday’s laundry attempt. And was distracted. Called, actually. By this:
Our kaffir lime, dripping after the early morning rain deluge, fragrant and bouncing back wonderfully after a hard dry season and being colonized by several million large red ants setting up house in its leaves:
I instantly KNEW this was the medicine my body needed, but wasn’t 100% sure why. And so I picked some fresh leaves, made some coffee and consulted the great-amorphous internet, which is what we DO in Northern Thailand, when we are dislocated from living-breathing-herbal people and the herbal books we once had have long since succumbed to rainy season mold or one of the eternally-passing-through “I’ll give it back, I promise“, massage and Thai culture-cooking students.
What did I learn?
Pre clinical studies have shown that some of its phytochemicals possess antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, chemopreventive, antioxidant, anticholinesterase, cardio and hepatoprotective effects. Source.
So, having established that my intuitive inner-healer was alive, awake and spot on, I sat for a quiet moment and asked for inner-witchy guidance how to best USE the kaffir lime leaves. They have a very strong taste and I normally use them for cooking in a Thai Green Curry (missed that post? here it is again) or in a coconut key lime cheesecake. And I came to quietly just know that they need to be blended with fresh lemongrass (yup – in the garden, 2 meters away behind the clothesline) and fresh young ginger. Thai people distinguish between “young ginger” (1 growing season) and “old ginger” (2 years plus in the ground, blow-your-head-off medicinal ginger). The young ginger is juicy and milder in taste, and more often used in cooking.
How much to use of each? My proportions looked liked this:
And then roughly chopped and into a stainless steel cooking pot (please, NO aluminium!). Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 mins and then cover and turn off the heat.
I let it cool and then blended with a little raw, local Thai mountain honey. How to know if it’s the real deal? Thai natural honey is often sold locally in recycled whiskey bottles. Thai honey IS traditionally less viscous and much thinner than western honey, so runniness is not the best indicator. Look for the nice, natural layer of scum on the top – always a sign of locally strained and not boiled.
I drank my Anti-Inflammatory Kaffir Lime Tea straight away – nice and warm. 2 cups. Since I had made a lot and I know my daughter prefers her drinks cool, I put a jug in the fridge to serve her with after school.
Looking for a grown-up healthy cocktail? My Kaffir Lime Anti-Inflammatory Tea tastes amazing with a big splosh of vodka over some ice, after a long hot day when the body needs cooling, calming and soothing.
Inflammation IS one of the biggest predictors of illness. Staying on top of it regularly with yummy, simple, almost-free teas and drinks that taste like tropical Thailand? A no-brainer. And Kaffir Lime deserves a much higher place in the Thai medicinal-herbal culture than just fragrant slices in your foot-bath at the spa or the nail shop.
Kaffir Lime leaves – powerful natural medicine, and pairing wonderfully with fresh lemongrass, fresh young ginger and raw natural honey.
Enjoy! Try it at home and leave your comments below. Coming to Chiang Mai, Thailand? Head to your nearest fresh market or traditional Thai garden and enjoy the healing delights of Phra Mae Thoranii, the Thai Earth Goddess. I never cease to be amazed that She has all things ripe, complementary and happening in the garden, right when I need them.
BlissednBlessed in my Thai natural world.