Spice With Benefits: Here's Why Sun-Dried Kokum Should Be The Hero Of Your Kitchen
Well, let’s admit it, we all have at some point found ourselves preening over beauty counters looking for Kokum butter creams that work wonders for skin, but how many of us really know that Kokum is a superfood?
Well, let’s admit it, we all have at some point found ourselves preening over beauty counters looking for Kokum buttercreams that work wonders for skin, but how many of us really know that Kokum is a superfood? At best, we know kokum sherbet, a refreshing, zesty drink for summers, or that it is used in curries to add that extra punch with its tangy flavor.
According to Ayurveda, a balanced meal should contain six different tastes: sweet, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent, and sour. Sourness, in particular, is said to help digestion and absorption of minerals. Given the diversity of Indian cuisine, every region has specific souring agents of its own such as the Kodampuli tamarind in Kerala, chaat masala or aamchur in the north, and the aromatic Gondhoraj lime in Bengal. The star souring agent along the Konkan coast, from Mumbai to north of Mangalore, and Gujarat is sun-dried kokum, aka Garcinia Indica.
What’s on my plate?
Dried kokum. For the uninitiated, the look and feel of this spice is like that of a dried shiitake mushroom, but blackish purple in colour. When it comes to taste, it's distinctively sour and fruity – almost like dried sour cherries—with a faint, slightly sweet aroma.
According to a 2014 research article published in the Journal of Food Research and Technology, kokum has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine. It was traditionally used to treat sores, tumors, dermatitis, heart complaints, diarrhea, digestion, and ear infection.
Dr. Bharat Aggarwal in his book Healing Spices: How To Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease calls kokum the natural weight-loss wonder. The superfruit contains hydroxy citric acid (HCA) which helps you shed calories, first by suppressing your appetite, and second by stopping the fat-making process in your body by inhibiting the conversion of carbohydrates to fats. Another major active ingredient in kokum is garcinol, which acts like an anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent. Another research article published in the Journal of Hematology & Oncology suggests that this desi superfood also has the potential to be used as an anti-cancer agent. And, lastly, the cooling properties of kokum protect you against dehydration and sunstroke.
Where to buy?
Dried kokum is readily available at local grocery shops and supermarkets.
Kokum can be consumed in a variety of ways. Combine it with coconut milk to make solkadhi, a refreshing Konkan drink, that is best paired with seafood. Add it to vegetables, curries, and lentils for an interesting twist. It’s tartness and flavour can instantly give the dish a whole new dimension. What more, you can relish it in various kinds of chutneys and pickles to elevate a boring meal on any day.
Just in case you want to try it at home today, here’s a beverage recipe from Chef Ranveer Brar’s kitchen.
Discover More Superfoods
Rich in nutritional value, superfoods are the easiest way to boost the health quotient of your daily meals. To discover more superfood ingredients, check out the rest of our superfood series:
Amla: This superfood can fix every part of your body! Don’t believe us? Read on to find out the health benefits of amla.
Hog Plum: Looking for a remedy to cure ulcers? Tired of getting diarrhea every time you eat out? Hog plum can come to your rescue! Check out the amazing health benefits of this not so popular superfood.
Ragi: This grain has made its way into the plates of many. From ragi dosa and idli to ragi porridge, it is being promoted in the diets of old and young. Find out why health experts are recommending this superfood.
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