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Experimenting With Exotic Herbs: From Lemongrass To Kaffir Lime Leaves

I’ve always been a fan of experimenting with herbs in my cooking, but lately I’ve been branching out and trying more exotic varieties. Lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves have become two of my favorites, adding unique flavors to dishes that I never even knew existed before.

Lemongrass has a citrusy yet earthy flavor that pairs well with chicken and seafood dishes. Kaffir lime leaves, on the other hand, add a distinct aroma and tanginess to curries and soups. Both herbs are commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, but can be found at specialty grocery stores or online if you’re willing to do some searching.

In this article, we’ll explore these two exotic herbs as well as others that you may want to try out in your own kitchen. Plus, I’ll share some tips for cooking with them so you can get the most out of their unique flavors.


Get ready for a burst of refreshing, citrusy flavor that’ll transport your taste buds to a tropical paradise. Lemongrass is a versatile herb that can be used in many ways, but my favorite way to enjoy it is by making lemongrass tea.

To make the tea, I steep chopped fresh lemongrass in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then strain it before drinking. It’s a simple and healthy way to enjoy the benefits of this exotic herb.

Aside from its culinary uses, lemongrass oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Its antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective remedy for various ailments like headaches, muscle pain, and digestive issues.

You can use the oil topically by diluting it with a carrier oil or add a few drops to your bathwater for a relaxing aromatherapy experience. Lemongrass truly is a herb that keeps on giving!

Kaffir Lime Leaves

I absolutely love the unique flavor profile of kaffir lime leaves in my cooking. The leaves have a citrusy, floral taste that pairs well with Thai and Southeast Asian dishes.

To grow and store these exotic herbs, it’s important to keep them in a cool, dry place and make sure they aren’t exposed to too much sunlight.

Some recipes I highly recommend trying include kaffir lime leaf curry, tom yum soup, or infused into a homemade coconut milk ice cream.

Flavor Profile and Culinary Uses

Discover the unique taste and versatile applications of kaffir lime leaves. These aromatic leaves have a distinctive citrus flavor with notes of lemon, lime, and bergamot. They’re commonly used in Thai cuisine to add depth and complexity to curries, soups, stir-fries, and marinades. Kaffir lime leaves are also popular in Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian dishes.

When using kaffir lime leaves in your cooking, it’s important to note that they should be finely chopped or torn before adding them to your recipe. The veins in the leaves can be tough and bitter if left intact. Pairing suggestions for kaffir lime leaves include coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, chili peppers, fish sauce, or soy sauce.

In addition to their flavor profile and culinary uses, kaffir lime leaves also offer health benefits. They’re rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating these flavorful herbs into your cooking not only enhances the taste of your dishes but also adds nutritional value.

How to Grow and Store

Growing and storing aromatic citrus leaves like lemongrass and kaffir lime is essential for anyone who wants to add a touch of Southeast Asian flavor to their dishes. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, these herbs are easy to grow at home with the right tips.

Firstly, choose a sunny spot in your garden or use a large pot if you’re limited on space. Make sure the soil is well-draining and has plenty of organic matter. Water regularly but avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot. To achieve optimum growth, add a layer of mulch around the base of the plants and fertilize every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer.

When it comes time to harvest, simply cut off the outermost leaves from each plant, leaving enough behind for regrowth. To store your freshly picked herbs, wrap them in damp paper towels before placing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For longer storage periods, consider drying or freezing your herbs. To dry them, tie small bundles together with twine and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area until they are completely dry. Once dried, remove the leaves from their stems and store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Alternatively, freeze your leaves by washing them thoroughly before chopping into small pieces and placing in ice cube trays filled with water or broth. Once frozen solid, transfer to freezer bags for later use in soups or stews.

With these growing tips and storage techniques under your belt, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh Southeast Asian flavors all year round!

Recipes to Try

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with these delicious Southeast Asian-inspired recipes that will transport you to a world of bold flavors and aromatic spices. With exotic herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal in your arsenal, the possibilities for unique ingredient pairings are endless.

For a fusion cuisine idea, try making lemongrass chicken skewers. Marinate bite-sized pieces of chicken in a mixture of minced lemongrass, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar for at least an hour. Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill until cooked through. Serve with a side of peanut sauce and sliced cucumbers for a refreshing contrast to the savory chicken.

Another recipe to try is Tom Yum soup with shrimp and kaffir lime leaves. Sauté chopped onions, garlic, and chili peppers in oil until fragrant. Add shrimp stock (or vegetable broth), diced tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and minced lemongrass to the pot along with some kaffir lime leaves. Simmer until everything is tender then add shrimp (or tofu) along with some fish sauce or soy sauce for seasoning. Top it off with fresh cilantro before serving hot as an appetizer or main course dish!

Other Exotic Herbs

It’s mind-boggling to think that some of our favorite spices, like black pepper and cinnamon, were once considered luxurious anachronisms. In the same vein, there are plenty of exotic herbs out there that can add a unique flavor to your dishes while also providing health benefits.

Take lemongrass for example – not only does it give off a fragrant citrusy aroma, but it also aids in digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s no wonder lemongrass is used widely in Southeast Asian cuisine.

Another herb worth experimenting with is kaffir lime leaves. These leaves have a distinctively sharp and tangy flavor that can enhance any soup or curry dish. They also have cultural significance in Thai cuisine – the leaves are often used in religious ceremonies and as traditional medicine for respiratory ailments.

By incorporating these exotic herbs into your cooking, you not only broaden your culinary horizons but also gain knowledge about different cultures and their practices surrounding food and health.

Where to Find Exotic Herbs

You’ll be amazed at the variety of unique flavors and health benefits you can discover by incorporating unfamiliar herbs into your cooking, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to expand your culinary repertoire!

If you’re wondering where to find exotic herbs for your culinary experiments, without breaking the bank or leaving your home, then online sources and specialty stores are your best bet.

Online sources like Amazon and Etsy offer a wide range of exotic herbs that may not be available in local grocery stores. Be sure to read reviews from other customers before making a purchase, as quality can vary.

Specialty stores, such as Asian markets or natural food stores, often have a larger selection of exotic herbs than mainstream grocers. They may also carry fresh herbs that are harder to come by elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask employees for recommendations or tips on how to use a particular herb in your cooking.

Tips for Cooking with Exotic Herbs

If you want to add a touch of magic to your dishes and take your taste buds on an adventure, try incorporating some rare herbs into your cooking. Cooking with exotic herbs can enhance the flavor profile of any dish and make it stand out from the rest. However, it’s important to know how to properly use these herbs in order to fully reap their benefits.

Here are some tips for cooking with exotic herbs:

  • Herb Pairing: When using exotic herbs, it’s important to pair them with ingredients that will complement their unique flavors. For example, lemongrass goes well with seafood dishes while kaffir lime leaves pair well with curries.

  • Cooking Techniques: Some exotic herbs can be overpowering if used incorrectly. It’s important to know when and how much of each herb to use. Also, some herbs release their flavors better when they’re cooked or sautéed first before being added as a finishing touch.

  • Freshness: Exotic herbs are best used fresh, so make sure you buy them from a reputable source and use them as soon as possible.

  • Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of exotic herbs until you find the perfect match for your taste buds.

  • Garnishing: Exotic herbs also serve as great garnishes for dishes that need an extra pop of color or flavor.

Overall, cooking with exotic herbs can elevate any dish and take it from ordinary to extraordinary. By following these tips and getting creative in the kitchen, you’ll be able to impress your guests and satisfy your own cravings for something new and exciting.


In conclusion, experimenting with exotic herbs has been a thrilling and enriching experience for me. From the refreshing taste of lemongrass in my tea to the zesty aroma of kaffir lime leaves in my curry, these herbs have truly added a new dimension to my cooking.

As I continue to explore other exotic herbs such as galangal and pandan leaves, I can’t help but feel a sense of wanderlust and adventure. However, this journey has not just been about discovering new flavors; it has also taught me about different cultures and their unique use of herbs.

It’s amazing how something as simple as adding a few herbs can transport you to another part of the world. Through this culinary exploration, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the diversity that exists in our world.

As I reflect on my experience with exotic herbs, I’m reminded of the quote by Marcel Proust: ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ Indeed, through trying out new ingredients like these herbs, we open ourselves up to endless possibilities and expand our horizons.

So go ahead and experiment with some exotic herbs yourself – who knows what kind of adventure you might embark on!