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Also known as
Cocum, Dried Kokum
Garcinia indica or kokum is a fruit tree, of culinary, pharmaceutical and industrial uses. The fruit is dark in colour, purple to black, sticky and with curled edges. The fruit is often halved and sun-dried to a semi-dry stage before being sold in markets for use as a spice in Indian cuisine.
The sun-dried version is called aamsul, kokum or kokam, and is used mainly in Maharashtrian, Konkan and Gujarati cuisine. When added to food it imparts a pink to purple colour and sweet/sour taste. It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in curries and other dishes.
Semi-dried kokum needs to be soaked in water to extract the pulp, which is added to foods to impart a sour flavour. The process is similar to that used to extract tamarind pulp from dried tamarind.
How to select
• Similar to tamarind, kokum is usually available as dried rind or fruit.
• Look for a deep colour. Deeper the colour, better the kokum.
• If buying from bulk bins, make sure it is covered appropriately to prevent dust and debris from settling on it.
• Smell it slightly if possible. It should not have any tell-tale smell of spoilage (which could indicate the kokum was not dried properly before selling).
• It is used mainly in the regional cuisines of Gujarat, Maharashtra and other places of the Konkan coast.
• In Goa, Maharashtra, and other nearby states, large glasses of kokum sherbet are served in the summer months to beat the heat.
• Kokum has the same souring qualities as tamarind, especially enhancing coconut-based curries, dals, and vegetable dishes involving potatoes, okra, etc.
• It is also included in chutneys and pickles. When doing so, the skins are not usually chopped but are added whole to the dish. Seasoning should be checked as they are quite salty. Beware of biting on a stone as a few are often left in the skins.
How to store
• You can store dried kokum in an airtight container for about a year.
• It is useful as an infusion, or by direct application, in skin ailments such as rashes caused by allergies.
• Kokum butter is an emollient helpful in the treatment of burns, scalds and chaffed skin.
• The fruits are steeped in sugar syrup to make amrut kokum, which is drunk to relieve sunstroke.
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