Asian Herb Used for Cooking
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Carl Geiger
Posted on: May 3, 2002

I am a chef in Canada and I’m trying to find history and origin of the herb "chumbawa" or "cumbawa". It’s leaf is similar in shape to that of basil but is also thicker and the stem is hard, it has a strong lemon or citrus flavour. If you know anything about this herb or where i would be able to find more info please contact me.

Those two names did not turn up in our databases or library references. But from the description, I would guess that the plant you are looking for is the kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix. The fresh or dried leaves of the kaffir lime have a wonderful citrus flavour that is featured in the cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. In Indonesia, for example, the fresh leaves are pounded into a soy-based sauce called "kecap". It is also used in hot chili pastes and in curries. Its most typical uses are to add its unique citrus flavour to soups and curries.

The fruits are also used. They are eaten with fish, are made into beverages, and are used to make lemon pie.

Other names for kaffir lime are: "ichang lime", "makrut", and "djeruk purut". These are probably just a few of the local names the herb has throughout the diverse cultures of South East Asia.

Richters is working on this plant for future listing in our catalogue. As of 2002 we are building up stock plants which we will use to take cuttings to propagate the plant. We hope to be able to offer plants in the next year or so. Watch for it in a future catalogue.

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