What is Kokum? Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae), commonly known as Kokum. How does the Kokum plant look? It’s a fruit-bearing tree that has culinary, pharmaceutical, and industrial uses. Garcinia indica is indigenous to the Western Ghats of India.
Of the 35 species found in India, 17 are endemic. Of these, seven are endemic to the Western Ghats, six in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and four in the northeastern region of India. The kokum variety from the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts from the coastal Konkan region of the state of Maharashtra, has received the GI .
Found in forest lands, riversides and wastelands, these plants prefer evergreen forests, but sometimes they also thrive in areas with relatively low rainfall. Additional Garcinia Indica benefits are that it is pretty low maintenance, and is cultivated on a small scale. It does not require irrigation, spraying of pesticides or fertilizers.
Some regionally popular terms used to refer to Kokum are- punarpuli, amsul and kokum agal.
Kokum Spice Description
Kokum is often halved and dried, so that it’s dried seeds are visible like citrus fruit. It is usually sold as a dried rind, dark purple to black, sticky and with curled edges. When added to food it adds a pinkish purple colour coupled with a sweet or acidic taste.
Bouquet: slightly sweet and sour aroma.
Flavour: a refreshing sour taste, slightly astringent
Hotness Scale: 1
Preparation and Storage of Kokum
Similar to tamarind, kokum skins are usually available as dried rind or fruit, infused in hot water. The deeper the colour, the better the kokum. It will also be fresh in an airtight jar for about a year!
Culinary Uses of Kokum
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 and are added whole to the dish. Kokum petals can be very strong. It takes a little stewing in the gravy for their sourness to release, so you don’t want to add too many. Make sure to take a little taste of the seasoning upon preparation. Beware of biting small stones that are often left in the skins.
Kokum fruit benefits for health:
To avail of Kokum benefits, it can either be eaten raw or be drunk in the form of juice. Sun-dried kokum is often used as a souring agent or as an additive in foods.
Garcinol is the major active ingredient of Kokum and it has antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh Kokum fruit contains high B-complex levels and vitamins such as niacin, folates and thiamine which are co-factors of many biochemical reactions. The seed of kokum contains 23–30% of oil and it is used in the preparation of medicines, cosmetics and confectionery.
Let us now go through some of the health benefits of Kokum Juice:
Rich in Antioxidants and Anti-Allergens
Kokum is an excellent source of antioxidants. Thus, it minimises the risk of diseases and promotes cell regeneration and repair. It helps to reduce fever and allergic reactions. A cold blend of Kokum is applied on allergic rashes on skin. An exceedingly healthy and refreshing drink, Kokum juice is very popular in India, especially during the hot summer.
Kokum for Acidity
Does Kokum cause acidity? Nope. It is delicious and has a cooling and refreshing effect on the body. It not only quenches your thirst, but also helps prevent dehydration and sunstroke due to heat.
Kokum for Digestion
The extracts of Kokum enhance the health of our digestive system to a great extent. Digestive problems such as constipation, flatulence, excessive bloating, indigestion or dyspepsia and irritable bowel moments can be treated by having Kokum juice. What more could one want?
Aids Weight Loss
Kokum contains an active ingredient called hydroxy citric acid. It promotes the burning of fat. It converts excess calories into fat. This aids in proper weight loss. Kokum also promotes metabolism that aids weight loss.
The Garcinol in Kokum boosts immunity in the body. The antibacterial properties of this berry keep you away from diseases, and help you stay healthy. It also reduces inflammation in the body.
Kokum for For Heart
Kokum is known to fight cholesterol and strengthen the cardio-vascular system. It is low in calories and rich in dietary fibre. It controls the blood pressure and heart rate and thus, protects the heart from coronary diseases.
Kokum For Brain
Kokum is found to exert positive effects on the brain by helping in the neuronal growth process. It also prevents damage to the brain by nullifying the action of free radicals, protecting brain health.
Kokum is used in cooking to add sour taste, a sweet smell, and colour to the food. It is used as an alternative for tamarind in curries and dals. Benefits of drinking Kokum juice or squash are that they can be made into a sharbat to soothe you during harsh and unforgiving Indian summers.
Kokum for Skin
Kokum can be directly applied over your face and body like a moisturizer. Cracked heels and lips can be cured. Also kokum is used to nourish hair from the roots, makes hair shiny, soft, smooth and easily manageable.
It is probably best known for its role as a potent emollient, or moisturizing agent when Kokum is used externally as kokum butter.
Kokum has anti-inflammatory effects, has certain agents that have the ability to not only prevent cancer but also have potential as a treatment for the disease.
Kokum is a rich source of minerals like magnesium, manganese, potassium and also carbohydrates in sufficient amounts to fulfil the nutrient requirement of the body. It has been used to prepare Ayurvedic medicines for centuries, to treat piles, dysentery and other infections. Kokum is also anti-neuralgic, helpful for gum diseases as well as in glaucoma.
Best Way to Consume Kokum
Kokum has the same souring qualities as tamarind, especially enhancing coconut-based curries or vegetable dishes like potatoes, okra or lentils. Read on to discover some versatile Kokum uses.
Sol Kadhi or Solkadi is also known as Kokum Kadhi . It is a soothing digestive drink popular in Goa and Maharashtra (Konkan Region). It is made from kokum fruit and coconut milk. Relish it as a drink or curry. We guarantee that its flavors are going to pleasantly surprise you, with every swig.
How To Make Kokum Sharbat Or Kokum Juice- Step-By-step
To make sharbat using fresh fruit, cut the fruit into half.
Discard the pulp and the seeds of the fruit.
Chop the outer cover in small pieces and then blend them in a mixer.
Strain this mixture and then cook it with sugar and other ingredients mentioned below.
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. Kokum petals can be very strong, so just add a few at a time. It takes a little stewing in the gravy for their sourness to release, so you don’t want to add too many . Make sure to taste a bit of the seasoning before preparation, so as to not serve an overly salty dish. Beware of biting on a stone as a few are often left inside the skins of Kokum.
We’re sure you are convinced of Kokum being the super food you need in your diet. Begin by adding it to your salads, dal, rasam, sambhar and curries for healthy, sumptuous and mouth-watering meals!