Colour your meals with kokum

Colour your meals with kokum

The first time I came across kokum, its vibrant colour and robust taste instantly caught my fancy. At a homestay in the Malnad region, many years ago, I was welcomed with a refreshing reddish-pink drink that offered a burst of flavour to my palate.

There, I learnt that kokum is a delightful substitute for tomato and tamarind. In a pulp form with some sugar, it becomes a cooling drink for summers. The purple-red, sun-dried rind of the ripened fruit (also called aamsul) easily blends into curries. Even the seeds yield a type of butter, which is a sought-after ingredient in creams and moisturisers.

What’s more, kokum offers myriad health benefits. It is no wonder then that kokum, belonging to the mangosteen family, is considered a super food. Grown predominantly near the evergreens of the Western Ghats and coastal areas, kokum is used widely in the coastal regions of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.

My spice rack is incomplete without this tangy-sweet sun-dried additive. The dry peel can be stored for a long time at room temperature in an air-tight jar. It is best not to deep freeze this fruit. To use, soak a few bits in water and use the extract like tamarind. Whenever you need to add a unique tang to your curries, reach out for kokum.

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