Also known as
Cocum, Dried Kokum
Kokum is dark purple to black, sticky and with curled edges. The fruit is often halved and dried, so that the dried seeds are visible in their chambers like a citrus fruit. It is usually available as a dried rind, resembling a thick plum skin. When added to food it imparts a pink to purple colour and sweet/sour taste. Garcinia indica or kokum is a fruit tree, of culinary, pharmaceutical and industrial uses. The outer cover of fruit is dried in the Sun to get Aamsul or Kokam/Kokum. It is used as a slightly sour spice in recipes from Maharashtra that yields peculiar taste and dark red colour.
It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in curries and other dishes from Konkan. It is also used in Konkani cuisine, in Gujarat, and some cuisines of South india.
The semi dried kokum needs to be soaked in water to extract the sour flavour. The process is similar to that used to extract tamarind pulp from dried tamarind.
Semi dried kokum
The fruit kokum is usually sundried after applying salt to it.Drying the kokum improves its shelf life.
How to select
Similar to tamarind, kokum skins are usually available as dried rind or fruit, and infused in hot water. The deeper the colour the better the kokum.
· It is used only in the regional cuisines of Gujarat Maharashrta and several southern states where large glasses of kokum sherbet are downed during parched summer months.
· Kokum has the same souring qualities as tamarind, especially enhancing coconut-based curries or vegetable dishes like potatoes, okra or lentils.
· Kokum is especially used with fish curries, three or four skins being enough to season an average dish.
· It is also included in chutneys and pickles. 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
It will keep in an airtight jar 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 amrutkokum which is drunk to relieve sunstroke.