From the Konkan Coast – Kokum

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Indigenous to the Western Ghats of India, this tangy fruit is almost a mystery to the rest of the world and even several other parts of India. We up your knowledge on this cooling tangy fruit so you can reap its benefits all through the summer months!

What is kokum?
Kokum petals which are native to the Konkan coast in India are pulpy and green in colour when young. These then become yellow and eventually a deep red colour when fully mature. The Kokum petals that we are familiar with are dried, dark purple in colour, curled-up rind of the fruit that resembles a thick plum skin.  These, besides adding an earthy tang to the recipes, also impart a lovely colour – which varies from a baby pink to a dark purple. You also get another variety of kokum known as Lonavala kokum that is smaller and harder than the other variety and used more widely in Gujarati cuisine.

How can you use it?
Never chop kokum petals. The texture of kokum petals is slightly grainy and chewy and the taste is strong – a piece of it in your mouth may not be the most appetizing thing. To use kokum you need to soak in in some warm water and caress it with your fingers, much like how you would use a ball of tamarind, till it releases its beautiful colour and taste into the water. This is the extract you can use to add the lovely zing of kokum to your food.

Health Benefits
Cooling food
Helps good digestion
Antioxidant properties
Improves the working of the immune system
Aids weight loss
Boosts brain activity
Controls acidity
Eases pain

Top 6 kokum recipes
Solkadhi - Somewhat like a cross between kadhi and buttermilk, solkadhi is an integral part of a Malvani meal. The rich creaminess of coconut milk is balanced with the tang from kokum petals and has a slightly spicy edge from green chillies. The beautiful pink colour of this chilled digestive drink, is inviting enough to make you have the first sip, after which you won’t be counting the glasses.

Kokam Sherbat – A cooling tangy sweet beverage made with kokum petal extract, sugar, roasted cumin powder and a pinch of black salt. This mix of flavours is not just tasty but also great to refresh you inspite of the scorching summer heat.

Kokum and Nariyal ka Pulao – Kokum and coconut – both konkan favourites – blend brilliantly with other ingredients like cashew nuts and green peas to make this delicious pulao. It is easy and quick to make and the taste is complete just by itself – needs no accompaniment!
Aambat Batata – A Maharashtrian tangy dry potato preparation which uses simple flavours that perfectly complement each other. A tasty dish to whip up for a light summer dinner – eat it with roti or curd and rice.

Khatti Meethi Dal – Lonavala kokum lends the tang that perfectly balances out the sweetness in this Gujarati dal recipe. Perfect with a plate of hot jeera rice and do not forget a dollop of ghee on top!

Kokum and Anar Slush – This slush is perfect for hot summer months, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and iron. Pomegranate pearls add visual appeal and texture to this cooling and appetite whetting kokum slush.

For more recipes on this simple but versatile ingredient, browse through SanjeevKapoor.com

Recommended recipes-

Kokum Fizz,  Kokum And Anar Slush,  Kokum aur Nariyal ka Pulao,  Solkadi,  Ambat Batata,  Mixed Kathol

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.