Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kokum: celebrating the surprise and a wonder ingredient :).

Time to flaunt the lovely surprise in my mailbox :). The lovely surprise that i got from Nupur is the tangy, beautiful and fragrant kokum. Kokum (botanical name: Garcinia indica) is also known as amsul/amsool and mangosteen (English). It is widely celebrated in Marathi, Konkani, Mangalorean and Coorgi cuisines, to name a few and adds a mellow tanginess and a beautiful pick blush to the dishes :). The kokum seed oil/butter is considered to be very good for the skin and has found immense use in the cosmetic and food industry. Several health food stores here in the US now flash products using kokum butter :). Read more about its myriad uses here.

Sra brings an interesting question to fore: The Wiki link claims that Kokum=Mangosteen. However, as it turns out, Mangosteen is Garcinia mangostana. Close cousins, but not the same. Her question is: Can we make kokum from Mangosteen? It should be theoretically possible-i guess they have similar fruits, and its a matter of drying the peel. I am very positive on this, because apparently kudampuli (a prized ingredient in Kerala cuisine) is also from genus Garcinia (Garcinia gummigutta, Garcinia combogia) ! No wonder they look quite similar :). So, if anyone knows here how to prepare kokum from the fruit, please do share the information :). Sra kindly shared the following links, do check them out:

The two yummy dishes i associate kokum most with, are amti and sol kadhi :). The former is daal (mostly toor daal) cooked with kokum extract (prepared by soaking kokum in water), gul (jaggery)/sugar and phodni (tempering: includes asfoetida, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric) and the latter is a delicious blend of coconut milk, kokum extract, gul, green chillies and cilantro :).
And surely i am going to use this lovely surprise to make amti and sol kadhi. But i wanted to enjoy this present by trying it with something different :). So i went ahead and though of the following:
  • Chayote squash curry
  • Quick aloo-matar
I chose these dishes randomly, the former because of what i fancied in the grocery store and the latter to fit my plans to make a quick fix dinner :). Hope you'll enjoy these!

Chayote squash curry:

There is something about the kokum-coconut reminds me of Goa, each time i think of it, each time i relish it! I took the chayote squash, paired this lovely vegetable with coconut milk and dressed up the combo with kokum. The result was a delicious curry, which totally made me nostalgic about my Goa trip and the food i enjoyed there. Here is how i made it:

We need:

  • Two chayote squashes (cubed into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Kokum extract (4-5 pieces kokum soaked for 20-30 minutes in 1/2 cup water)
  • 1/2" piece of ginger, grated (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. oil
Boil the cubed squash pieces in water (enough to completely cover the pieces) along with turmeric and salt, till tender. Add coconut milk, grated ginger, garlic, kokum extract, red chilli powder and sugar. Bring to boil. Prepare the tempering by heating the oil, spluttering the mustard seeds and adding the curry leaves. Add the tempering to the curry and simmer to desired thickness. Enjoy hot with rice and pickles :).

If you are short on time, you can also cook the kokum pieces directly with the vegetables, after addition of coconut milk. I leave the kokum pieces in, they add a certain flavor to the dish. It is really fun to chew on a fruity piece of kokum as you relish the curry :-D. If you want the curry to have a subtle flavor, you may omit ginger and garlic. I have to add; this kokum was so good, that despite using ginger and garlic, i could feel the distinct aroma from these purple-pink fruits. Do include sugar in the preparation to balance the tangy flavor, it adds a lot to taste.

Quick aloo-matar:
This is quick indeed and involves use of microwave :-D. Yes, when i rush, i resort to microwaving the aloo/potatoes :). To top it all, this version of aloo-matar is a no-oil recipe!

We need:

  • 1 potato (wash, microwave for 4-5 minutes and peel)
  • 2 cups shelled green peas/matar
  • 1" ginger piece (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Extract from 4-5 pieces of kokum
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary leaves (fresh or dried, your choice)

We start by microwaving the potato. The potato is peeled, cubed and kept ready to go. We heat the pan and roast the cumin, add 2 cups of water, ginger and garlic and bring the water to boil. We now add the microwaved and cubed potatoes and cook these while mashing it a lil' bit. Now its time to add the shelled green peas, salt, red chilli powder and kokum extract (or kokum pieces, if you are like me). We stir the dish gently once or twice, add 1/2 cup more water, cloves and simmer the aloo-matar on low/medium flame till the gravy is thick. Time to garnish the aloo-matar with rosemary leaves and we are all set to enjoy :).

Kokum here gives a subtle tanginess and pretty color to aloo-matar and lifts the dish to a whole new level. Rosemary and garlic (simmered, not roasted here) together create a warm and sweet-spicy aroma along with cloves, and build on the subtle warm notes from kokum. I enjoyed this variation of aloo-matar a lot!
Hope you'll enjoy these dishes too :). Here's to friendship, here's to the beautiful ingredient!

More ways to enjoy kokum:

Bakar Bhaji (Anita)
Bhendi Sukhem, prawns kokum garlic, lobster pepper kokum (Upper Crust India)
Daanyachi Amti (Tee)
Drumstick vegetable (Alpa)
Footi Kadhi/Kokum kadhi without coconut milk (Red Chillies)
Gujarati Daal (Vegetarian Delight-1, Amisha-2), Thanks Richa, for the pointer (now bring you recipe too) :-D.
Kalya vatanyachi amti (Anjali)
Kokum aloo (ARAD)
Kokum Fish/Sola Bangade (Shilpa)
Kokum Shrimp/Sola sungat (Shilpa)
Kokum Sharbat (Mehak)
Moong daal aamti (Indira)

Do let me know if any one of you have any related recipe ideas or links to share, i'll update the post accordingly :).

Thanks Nupur, the flavors from your kitchen have brought with them a message of friendship and sharing! I am truly enriched!


sunita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sunita said...

I am not familiar with kokum...but if I ever make anything with it, I now know where to look for inspiration ...thanks for those lovely recipes.

sra said...

HI Musical, I'm zealously guarding a packet and a little more of kokum in my fridge - I'm terrified I'll run out of it. Never knew about kokum butter.

Siri said...

I must confess, I was not aware of *Kokum* before, but now I know how it looks (from ur prev post) and how it taste ( from this post!). Both the curries look appetizing Musi..:)

I will try to find some in my nearby Indian stores.


indosungod said...

I have used kokum to cook fish curry but not with any vegetables. Chayote squash curry looks great with the coconut milk and ofcourse the quick aloo matar curry too.

Asha said...

Never heard of Kokum butter but do have Kokum and both these dishes are bookmarked to try. Good ones Musie!:))

TBC said...

Chayote squash in coconut milk sounds wonderful.:-)
But where is the pink color?

Sig said...

Great use of kokum musy... I have had sol kadhi and I LOVE it... I have never used kokum myself... for the longest time I thought kokum and kudampuli were the same... And kokum butter is something new for me too...

Richa said...

so true, coconut-kokum combo is a perfect match :) would like to try the curry soon, slurrrrp!! just thinking of kokum makes my mouth water ;)
btw, Gujarati dal is made with kokum, do try w/ the fresh kokum u got, it is just too good to be missed, lemme' know if u need the rcp!!

Anonymous said...

Not only friendship and sharing, Nupur's ingredient got you back to your blog! Good to see you back with your unusual dishes.

Asha said...

Musie, here is where you can buy that chicory coffee. We grow Arabica in Hassan estates and mix with Chicory while processing coffee, that's why I am attached to this coffee too. Arvind used to like this, now he developed a taste for dark Kenyan and French coffee which is bitter and no chicory!:D

musical said...


Thanks! Start with sol-kadhi, one of the best treats, especially during summers!


First of all, thanks (you know what for) :). Take your pick from the list at the end of the post, they are all yummy dishes! I learnt about kokum seed butter in my Graduate School as we had a lab working on its solidifying properties :).


Thanks, dear! Its great to know that you found the post informative. Big Indian Stores do carry kokum, so hopefully you'll find some!


Thanks :). The squash-coconut combo is great (dishes such as majjige huli and saasive use it often) and the kokum-coconut combo is delish as well (sol-kadhi), so i just brought these together :).

musical said...


Thanks! Hope you enjoy these dishes :). I found some kokum butter based creams in Whole Foods recently :). Back in India, there's a lot of research going on about this.


It is wonderful indeed :). So, when i said deep PINK color, i meant the kokum juice. Once you add it with coconut milk, it leaves a pink tinge to the dish. That, courtesy my photography skills (especially in night time shots) hasn't been captured well (and looks beige instead!). If you want to enjoy the beauty of pink color, do have a look at photos on Mahek's and Red chilli's posts linked below :). That's how pretty the kokum extract looked :).


You are spot on! Kodumpuli is a close relative of Kokum, both belonging to the Garcinia genus. I am glad you liked this dish, with some coconut milk in it, you didn't have a choice :-D. And sol-kadhi is the best preparation with kokum :).


There you are, girlie! How could i have forgotten the khatti-meethi daal! I'll try finding a link and adding it here, or better still blog it sometime :). Do send me your recipe too, i would love to try it out! I am so glad to see you, girl! Glad you like the curry idea-lemme know how it turns out.


I agree :). I am thrilled to be back here too :).


THANKS! Its for almost the same reason that i love the chicory blend, the memories of Bangalore :). I still have some coffee left, once i am done with that, now i know where to get more from :). Hugs to you for this, Ashakka!

Suganya said...

I have never tried kokum before. Are there any pointers to buy it?

musical said...


If you haven't tried it before, try it now :). As for the pointers, sometimes the Indian stores (like the one closest to my home) do keep it, but they don't display it on the shelves, so you need to ask for it. Try to (if you have a choice) for batches which have a pinkish tinge in the packet. Also, at time some batches would have crystals from the acid in kokum, that's not much cause for worry. Just that it wouldn't be the freshest batch of product. Hope this is helpful.

Pelicano said...

Rosemary!!!? I wonder about you sometimes... :-D "...and pickles." I'd actually love to try these dishes- esp. the chayote one because I haven't yet tried this vegetable (but I do look at them quite often), but I don't have access to kokum right now. However, I do have quite a bit of kadampuli, strangely enough; does it taste similar to kokum?

Anjali said...

Hey Musical, so you are floored by kokum, you had to be!

I am a missionary for Kokum right now :). Converting all tamarind loving friends to Kokum. Many of my senior girlfriends are suffering from arthritis and too much use of Tamarind is aggravating their condition. Kokum is a good substitute for people who love the tangy taste without the side effects.

Red Chillies said...

Thanks for including my link here musical. We at home love the simplicity of the kokum drink especially during summers.
Frankly I did not even dream of using it in peas curry. I am imagining the taste it brings to that curry!

Sreelu said...

Musical yummo looks so delicious, thats a cool surprise ingredient, have you ever tried mangosteen ? I hear its becoming quite popular for health reason

Nupur said...

This post took my breath away! I have known kokum all my life but have never used it for anything other than amti and solkadi. Now you give us two incredibly innovative dishes, plus links to all these other interesting ways to use kokum. I have never cooked with chayote squash at all...and the curry looks 100% slurpable :D and aloo matar with rosemary and kokum- musical, each dish you make is a call for unity in diversity!
This is the power of arusuvai. Thank you, Musical. A big hug to you.

Raaga said...

I just bought kokum to make saar... I'll post that soon... lovely recipes and you're one lucky girl!!

Kalai said...

I've never used kokum before, but these dishes are certainly tempting me to go out and find some! Rosemary in aloo matar! Wow, that's really unique! Wonderful ideas. :)

Rachna said...

hey musy, welcome back

my mum sometimes uses kokum in sambar. I like the choyote squash soup, will def try it.

Pooja V said...

this is one of the most imp and commonly used ingredient in my kitchen.

musical said...


Keep wondering :-D. Rosemary and garlic go so well together! Stop admiring the chayote squash and buy some :). They are really good! If you try these dishes, lemme knnow how they turn out, and yes, do not forget the rosemary ;). Kudampuli is sour too and belongs to genus Garcinia, so its worth using that as a replacement :).


That's a worthwhile mission :). What i like about kokum is that the sourness is mellow and there's added benefit of some color :).

Red Chillies:

You are most welcome, dear :). That kadhi recipe is delicious! Such a lovely and soothing drink for the summers! The kokum did enhance the aloo-matar curry a lot by adding the tangy taste and a rich color!


THanks, dear :). Haven't tried mangosteen. i am told its sour too. Sra would be the most knowledgeable about it, she finds fresh mangosteen in her place. Garcinia fruits have recently been in focus about their health benefits too.

musical said...


Thanks a lot! If it were not for such a super-fresh kokum, i probably too would have used it in just everyday amti.....You are very generous, dear, to have sent me some of this precious fruit! The inspiration for the chayote squash curry came from majjige huli, which has coconut paste and buttermilk, so i thought why not use coconut milk instead :). And do try the rosemary-garlic combo in desi curries, its really yummy! Hugs back at ya, girlie! Here's to Arusuvai!


Thanks, dear! Do post that recipe, i'd love to try it out. Indeed, lucky to have the arusuvai here and to have such lovely friends!


Welcome to my corner, dear :). Its indeed very touching that this post generated some enthusiasm about kokum. The credit goes to dear Nupur.


Thank you, sweetie :). Hope you like the chayote squash recipe. Kokum in sambar must be tasting so good! A must try!

Pooja V:

It is indeed a very cherished ingredient. Do share any recipes, if possible. Thanks :).

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Look please here

Pelicano said...

I totally agree about garlic and rosemary being great friends! And yes ma'am, I will try the chayote as soon as I can- using your recipe but with kadampuli. And then I'll come back here and give my review! :-D Thanks Musy.

Anonymous said...

Both dishes look delicious musical. I especially love the look of the aloo matar - i have soem kokum at home that has been pleading for some attention... u've given me the recipes and all the links too!

Shilpa said... tried kokum? thats so nice..I simply love this ingredient and its one of the very basic parts of Konkani cooking. Our neighbor had a kokum tree and I have very fond memories of eating kokum fruit and trying to climb the tree for this fruit etc :D. Your usage of kokum is so unique and I am going to try it soon.

musical said...


I am looking forward to your "review" :-D. Hope you like it :).


Am i thrilled! Thanks to you, dear! Am so glad that you liked these recipes! Makes it all worthwhile :).


That's very sweet of you :). I hope you'll enjoy these recipes. A lil' question: since you do know a thing or two about kokum tree and raw fruit, having seen it since your childhood, do you know how to dry kokum? I'd really love to know about the process.

Srivalli said...

Musy..those are lovely creations...great dishes to be bookmarked..thanks

musical said...


Thanks, dear :). I am glad you enjoyed these!

Miri said...

I love kokum and its amazing flavour - sol kadi is my favourite - your innovative dishes look delicious!

I too dont think that kokum = mangosteen - they are probably the same family though...

Shilpa said...

Musy, usually the kokum fruit becomes bright red when it is ripe. So it is cut into two and the inner seeds are removed. Seeds and out skin are separately dried. I am going to India next month and looks like it is a right time for kokum fruits. I will be doing a detailed post about it when I come back.
If you have the skin already, just leave it under hot sun to take out the moisture. (I am not very sure when the salt is added to the skin.Will find out and let you know).

musical said...


Thanks :). I agree, these two seem to be different fruits, though from the same group.


Thank you soooooooo much, for this informative post. I am looking forward to your detailed post. Thanks again :).

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sangeeta said...

Hi Musical ...thank you for dropping by my blog and having a word .
I wonder how i missed this wonderful for so long ... this kokum special i am bookmarking , a have a jarful of kokum and never get to use that .

You have so many innovative recipes here .. loved it.

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