Kaffir or Makrut, Which Term Do You Use?

I’ve contemplated getting a plant too, as sometimes they’re under a ban, and leaves are impossible to get from anywhere in the U.S. Don’t have a green thumb, and some tropicals don’t do well under my care. Excepting an anthurium I was gifted, that lives in the bathroom. Have a few tropicals outside that will overwinter, but a makrut tree/bush will not, in my gardening zone of 8B. Thanks for linking the article @naf, can’t wait to read it.

It took about two years for me to make the change. And I still mess up. I admire your thoughtfulness in raising the topic.


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Thanks for the interesting link @naf and thanks for starting this thread @Lambchop and thanks to all who helped educate me today! Makrut it is.


@Kalivs and @GretchenS, the thanks belongs to the member who PM’d me to gently educate. I wouldn’t have even known to raise the subject, otherwise. It’s been an interesting, thoughtful, and educational discussion for many of us, members, and readers, alike.

Thanks @Lambchop as well for raising this question and being open. Thanks @Kalivs for your explaination, your post started to get me thinking and I see from your perspective. I was not aware of this side although there is a large Arabian population here, and the lime’s has a French name combava.

If you are in zone 8B, and you only want makrut for the leaves, it is easy, a sunny spot either in a big pot (if you have snow in winter) or directly in the garden. The difficult part of growing citrus is the fruit part. If I remember well, SE Asia has mild dry winter, and wet summer (daily shower for an hour or more and sun follows instantly). I try using this logic to grow my orchids, they are doing well and blooming, given the fact that I don’t have a green house with control humidity (24 of them). I have less success with citrus plants (mediterranean and South American species), I should repot them in bigger pots. LOL.

Good to know @naf - I mainly want the leaves, but would be interested in trying the limited juice as well as the zest; thanks for the info.

BTW, what is your secret for growing the orchids? Have only killed one plant so far, so I’m not a serial orchid killer, at least, not yet.

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I killed several already! My first one was very beautiful, and I read something like one needs to have water permenatly in a pot not to dry out, it started to die after 2 weeks… For many years I didn’t touch orchids again. Until I got a gift and this one kept on blooming year after year. The others were mainly when I bought them, they were in bad shape already.

Which type of orchid do you grow? They are slightly different. Phalaenopsis is the easiest and the most impressive one, I’ve Zygopetalum, Brassia, Catteleya, Cymbidium, Paphiopedilum etc. I got inspired when I saw in Thailand and Vietnam, their orchids were mostly grew in outdoor pots. I’m in zone 7b or 8a. From May to October, I put all my orchid outdoor in the shade in patio. The leaves grow much better with more light. The temperature difference between the day and night in October or spring provokes the flowering spikes to appear. For watering, I usually soak the plants for 20 minute maximum once a week, or twice a week in hot summer. Beware to not let water sits in the pot the rest of the time, this will lead to root rots. They don’t like hard water and rain water is the best. Fertilize every 2 weeks in spring and summer, alternate the fertilizer between the bloom and normal ones.

How about you? What species do you have? How do you grow them?

(Haha, maybe we should move this to the gardening section).

Good luck to those in my part of the world who try to source makrut lime leaves from any normal retail outlet.

Asian stores should have them?

Here, they sell both the fruits and the leaves. In gardening shops, they sell the plants too.

naf - I didnt mean the availability. I meant asking for makrut. As mentioned earlier, the use of kaffir here for the lime leaves is universal. If I asked for makrut lime leaves, I’d get a blank look and the someone would say, “no , I’ve never heard of them, but we do have kaffir lime leaves which may be similar”.

It’s all a matter of context. Because, for a fairly brief period, a word was used in a derogatory way in one country, does not mean that the word shouldnt be used elsewhere in the world in completely different contexts. By way of another example, it is rare that, in English, folk today would use the word “negro”, yet it is the Spanish word for “black” and consistently used in that language without issue.

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Question, does the English muslim population used the word kafir or not? I have an Arabic origin neighbour, if I see him these days, I will ask what he thinks about the word.

Another article.

I believe that some Muslims will use this as an insult about non-Muslims. I’ve no idea how widespread it might be. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as with similar racial/ethnic insults, it’s not a word you hear too often in general society. As Kalivs mention upthread, “paki” is a general British insult towards people from South Asia (based on the largest South Asian ethnic group being of Pakistnai heritage) but it is a word always intended as an insult. In similar vein, in normal society, Britons would not use the W-word to refer to black people - again it’s solely intended intended as a racial insult.

@naf, it was a beautiful cymbidium orchid that was gifted to me in a nice pot. I watered it frequently, and it did drain well, but it lost it’s blooms quickly, then the green part died too. That’s my only experience with orchids, except for the rare orchid who lived with us for 18 years. She required a lot of heat, with all other conditions needing to be perfect also. :rofl::rofl::rofl: I’m not giving up on the plants, you’ve inspired me to try a phaleonopsis!

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It’s not going to make much difference to me in my little corner of the world. I’ve never seen lime leaves in a regular supermarket up here, even the most diverse of markets. When I’m shopping at the various Asian stores (we have many!) I’m on my own completely, and have to track stuff down. I only knew what they looked like from eating Thai food out. No one near or dear to me cooks their own Thai food. Just now, out of curiosity, I searched on Amazon for the citrus, using the term makrut, which came up immediately, along with kaffir in the description of the plant, as well as the botanical name.

I do hear what you’re saying, and as I stated upthread, I sometimes feel there are hidden PC minefields everywhere. But I do like to know what they are, thus avoiding the shock of learning Kaffir, and other terms may be offensive to some.

A personal example from my part of the west coast: I never refer to our neighbors from Mexico as Mexicans. They are Hispanic or Latinos, yet I love to go out for Mexican food and cook it.

In the U.S. I’m happy we can all call ourselves Americans, rather than insisting on being called North Americans. However, in the Latin world we are most definitely Norte Americanos. That’s ok too.

Hope you are doing well, as we journey through this QT, and our radically changed world @Harters.

Yes, we’re doing well, thanks. Had my 18 month post-radiotherapy review this morning (phone appointment instead of face to face) - all continues to be fine. Hope things are good with you and yours.

As for the lime leaves, they are common in pretty much every supermarket here, although dried, not fresh (which I’ve never seen), which must mean there are sufficient numbers of people buying them to cook. I assume that is probably Anglos, as Thai immigration to the UK will be minimal.

Ok, you got me. How in the world is it somehow offensive to refer to people from Mexico as Mexicans? All the Mexican immigrants I know and have ever known are proud to be Mexican.

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Actually, in my experience, we’re “norteamericanos” (or in more formal contexts, estadounidense) when we call ourselves “Americans”, but outside “official” contexts (like NGO names with the word “American” in them), they call us americanos/“Americans”.

Which I frankly find seriously annoying… I can accept some double standards (like people referring to themselves with epithets that might be offensive if someone else used them), but I find that one in particular both irritating and offensive… Especially coming from peoples that to the extent one can fairly generalize about “peoples” are, in my fairly extensive experience with examples from a range of S and Central American countries, perfectly happy to be sometimes extremely  offensive about other peoples/cultures (including the indigenous ones in their own countries, and their fellow “South Americans” from ones…) (ETA: All in the good old, “I’m not prejudiced, that’s just what they’re really like!” kinda way…:roll_eyes:)

I mean, if we’re going to get picky, “United States” isn’t even country-specific (e.g., the official name of our immediate neighbor to the south being of course “Los Estados Unidos de México”, and there are at least two (and in depending on the particular context/debtate/argument) three “paises norteamericanos”, all of which have politics/cultures dominated by descendants of European colonists/immigrants… :roll_eyes:

Back on the Citrus hystrix topic, I find that in almost all contexts, just plain old “lime leaves” works perfectly well. There is some occasion for confusion in Latino grocery stores or when talking to some Spanish speakers (since “tilo” is usually translated into English as “lime leaves” rather than “linden leaves”), but (a) who would look for SE Asian lime leaves in a Latino-specific grocery store?, and (b) the uses of the two aren’t at all interchangeable, and they don’t look at at alike… Orange leaves are used in some cuisines (maybe a little ironically, the one I’m most aware of is South African), but as far as I’ve ever seen, “Persian lime” leaves aren’t used for cooking anywhere, so there really isn’t much room for confusion. Even less considering that it’s usually obvious from context that the SE Asian limes are the ones that are meant… What I like about this is that it avoids calling them “Thai” anything as a generic name, which isn’t really entirely appropriate itself. (They probably didn’t originate in mainland SE Asia at all, much less the territory known as Thailand since the 19th century, and in any event are endemic to all of SE Asia and much of the South Pacific, and have traditionally been used in many different countries/cuisines at least as long as they’ve been used in Thailand…)

@MikeG, you are obviously more parochial than I am about the usages/correct spellings of the various words - think you know what I meant regarding Norte Americanos. I like to be educated and informed about things, but I find it infinitely boring to check and double check every.single.word, or term. I choose to use. I don’t care to flex my intellectual muscles in that way. But I DO appreciate you doing so, and adding more context to these things. I mean that most sincerely too! :slightly_smiling_face:

Wondering where you live, and if you’d care to explain to @ratgirlagogo, about the term Mexicans? If you don’t, I will, but I truly think you could give it a more historical and thorough context. Best to you, and thanks for participating in this thread. I will actually be eager to hear your thoughts vis a vis the Mexican terminology issue.