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We all know the classic citrus fruits, we love them and we make extensive use of them especially in the winter season. Without neglecting them, we can go to the discovery of those that are less known in our part but have several interesting properties and can make a small place even in our range of ingredients. There Combava it is one of these and if you are good connoisseurs of Asian cuisine perhaps you have crossed it because it is from this fruit that a fragrant spice that is very widespread in those parts is obtained.
Today we learn about its characteristics but also how it can be used in the kitchen as in other areas. First of all, let's classify it as a fruit belonging to the citrus family very common in Asia where a spice used for flavor dishes and soups while in Italy it is still not very widespread. With the happy gastronomic contamination that has been going on for years, we are slowly learning to appreciate it and also to make good use of it, both of the leaves and the peel of the fruit.
The scientific name of the fought it makes us understand some of its characteristics more than the name itself. IS' Citrus hystrix and belongs to the genus Citrus. If we want to try to combine it with other citrus fruits that are better known to us, we can use lime as a reference, but it grows elsewhere, especially in Asian countries bordering the Indian Ocean. In Italy you don't hear much of it but an alternative term to the one used so far can be Kaffir Lime.
Let's look at the plant that does not have a majestic appearance, it is a small tree with thorns that is filled with green leaves and very fragrant. For the first three years of life we have to be satisfied with these, then it begins to bloom producing bunches of inflorescences with white-pink petals. When the flowers begin to appear, then the fruits also arrive, which tend to have a round shape but a little flattened at the poles. They are not very big, about the same as lemons, but they do have one thick skin, very characteristic because it is lumpy as well as an intense green color. Once the peel is removed, there remains pulp that has a very sour taste so it is not normally eaten.
Now that we know what it looks like we can go back to the scientific name "Citrus hystrix”To understand where it originates from. The word Hystrix in fact indicates theporcupine animal which reminds us of the amount of thorns the plant has.
Combava: the properties
Now that we have read that pulp is almost never eaten, we are certainly wondering what we can do with this fruit. Later we will see it better but we can already anticipate that the fought it is basically used not as a fruit but as a spice because in this way it gives a pleasant flavor to various typical recipes of Asian tradition.
Looking at the properties of this citrus, however, we can understand that we are not dealing with a simple spice and in different parts of the world it is a I also use medicinal such as in Indonesia.
Here are the properties of Keffir Lime: anti-infectives and antiseptics, (and therefore excellent for states of anxiety, stress, agitation and insomnia), decongestant liver (as a herbal tea relaxing blood detoxifier).
Combava: how to eat
When we talk about spice we refer to the peel which becomes an excellent ingredient for preparing sauces or condiments with an exotic touch, moreover we can also use the leaves, always with similar purposes. For the peel it is necessary to take it, let it dry in the sun or in the oven and then mince it to obtain something similar to a powder, for the leaves we proceed in a similar way by making them dry.
Despite the sour taste, there are those who use the fruit juice as an ingredient in some rum-based liqueurs that are produced and consumed on the island of Madagascar and on the island of Réunion but unfortunately it is difficult to find some in our part of the world.
In the kitchen we can use in different ways the powder obtained from the leaves or from the dried peel taking into account that it has a taste similar to that lemongrass, lime and coriander. As you can imagine it is therefore very popular in fresh fish dishes but in Asia it is also used simply to flavor rice dishes or in pastry, paired with chocolate or vanilla, always for flavoring. Let's finish with alcohol, because this aroma can be excellent in drinks based mainly on gin, vodka and tequila.
We can also make more creative uses of it and take the dried leaves to garnish and flavor both soups and salads and broth, or to prepare exotic stews, or marinate the chicken or lamb.
To end our foray into the world of Asian cuisine and flavors, let's find out how this citrus fruit is born. There are several hypotheses that we can explore together. Some believe thatthe combava is a hybrid between cedar and lime, others that it is a spontaneous mutation of the lime. These are the most accredited theories but when in doubt we can attach ourselves to the certainty that it has Asian origins and is still cultivated today in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
You may also be interested in our related article on how to grow citrus fruits in pots