Kokum is the fruit of a plant Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family. It is known as aamsol locally and finds uses both as a spice and a medicine. Traditionals believe that Kokum is Grandma’s cure to acidity and lot more.
Aamsol primarily grows in the Western Ghats, especially the Goa and Konkan region. Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Goan and Konkani cooking uses it widely.
Kokum is a small fruit like a cherry tomato, red in colour that deepens to purple on ripening. Before putting to culinary uses it is often dried though it remains a bit sticky after drying up. It has a sour taste with a faintly sweet aroma. I fell in love with everything kokum once I had delicious Sol Kadhi and Kokum Sherbet. This led me to research more about this delicious powerhouse of essential nutrients and vitamins.
Health Benefits of Kokum
It is good for people dealing with persistent bowel problems, ear infections, sores, menstruation delays, intestinal parasites and inflammatory issues. One of the major health benefits of kokum is preventing cancer as well as protecting brain health. It cools down the body and is helpful for people suffering from digestion issues. It also controls cholesterol and helps in weight loss.
Weight loss: Kokum is a source of a derivative of citric acid that curbs your appetite and thus inhibits weight gain.
Antioxidants: Kokum is a rich source of antioxidants, especially vitamin C that helps in slowing the signs of ageing on the skin by producing collagen.
Immunity booster: Kokum is a rich source of vitamin C that helps boost your immunity.
Anti-inflammatory agent: It has the antioxidant garcinol that helps fight inflammation in the body, thus preventing puffy eyes and skin.
In the Culinaryverse
In the culinary world, Kokum uses include that of a souring agent, an alternative to tamarind in curries and other dishes from coastal India. Gujarat cuisine frequently uses it to add flavour and tartness to dal (lentils) for flavour balance. It is a great summer cooler and finds its use to make a syrup and use it in beverages like sherbets, sol kadhi and juices in Goa. Food applications vary with extensive use in curries, soups and pickles and as a preservative.