Exploring The Wonders Of Kokum: What Is It and How Do I Use It?
Image Credit: Kokum | Image Credit: Pixabay.com

From its origins in Indian cuisine to its growing presence in international dishes, here’s a closer look at this wonder spice.

Kokum is a dried fruit native to India and commonly used as a spice, either ground or as a paste, and is a key ingredient in many Indian curries and other dishes. The fruit has a sour-sweet flavor and is often used as a substitute for tamarind.

So, if you’re looking to spice up your cooking and enjoy some health benefits at the same time, kokum is a great option.

What is kokum? 

Kokum is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to the Western Ghats mountain range in India. The tree’s flowers and fruit are used to make kokum, a key ingredient. Kokum’s appearance is similar to that of a black grape, and its fruit is about the size of an avocado. Kokum is harvested from the tree’s bark and fermented before being dried and made into a spice.

How to use kokum in cooking 

The spice is best added towards the end of cooking, as the flavor is more potent when cooked for a shorter amount of time. The spice can be used in many different ways, including as a salt substitute, in marinades, and in desserts and drinks. Kokum can be used as a salt substitute in many different dishes, including soups and curries. The spice can also be used in marinades for fish, meat, and poultry, as well as in many different types of chutney. Kokum is also frequently used in desserts, like ice cream, and in beverages, like a traditional Indian "gingery" iced tea. Its sweet and sour flavor profile is especially well-suited to fish curry dishes.

Health benefits of kokum

Here are some of the ways in which Kokum can improve your health:

1.    Kokum is an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

2.    With its anti-diabetic properties, kokum can revive enzyme levels that drop in people with type 2 diabetes.

3.    Amsol is good for your heart because kokum has fewer calories and lots of fiber. Due to the presence of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and manganese, we can maintain a healthy blood pressure.

4.    Kokum has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, as it contains phenolic compounds that have this effect.

5.    Kokum has been shown to have positive effects on mood by reducing feelings of stress and anxiety and promoting mental calm.

6.    During the hot summer months, kokum juice is refreshing and invigorating, and it keeps you hydrated.

7.    Kokum's flavonoids, hydroxycitric acid, garcinol, and anthocyanins all contribute to the plant's health benefits, including improved slumber. All of these factors add up to higher serotonin concentrations in the brain.

8.    Kokum is a powerful antioxidant, so eating it can reduce your risk of developing cancer. It protects us from cancer because it can neutralize carcinogenic free radicals.

9.    Kokum, as a digestion aid, not only relieves indigestion, constipation, and flatulence but is also great for weight loss.

Popular dishes featuring kokum

This lesser-known spice is gaining popularity in modern cuisine, and for good reason. 

Kokum is used to give Gujarati dal its perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors.

Kokum Kadhi has an interesting flavor as well, with its characteristic tanginess.

Kokum-flavored beverages and sherbet mixes are popular in India due to their flavor, pulpiness, and aroma.

Kokum is commonly used in Maharashtrian and Konkani cuisine as a stand-in for Imli, in everything from bhindi sabzi to dal usal, a staple dish in Maharashtra.

Ways to Choose Good Kokum 

    To begin, try to find a dark hue. If the kokum's color is darker, it's probably of higher quality.

    If you're going to buy from bulk bins, inspect the product carefully to ensure it's clean.

    If the kokum has a rancid odor, it may not have been dried properly before being sold.

How to Make a Refreshing Beverage with Kokum

Simply mix the powdered form of the spice with water and let it sit until it’s a bit sour. Once the liquid has reached the desired level of sourness, add sugar or another sweetener to taste. The beverage can be enjoyed either hot or cold and is perfect for a hot summer day.

If you love spices, you’ll want to add kokum to your kitchen cabinet! This lesser-known spice is gaining popularity in modern cuisine, and for good reason. Not only does it provide a unique flavor, but it’s also rich in health benefits.