Kokum (Garcinia indica) is a unique medicinal
plant whose cultivation is confined to
the coastal hilly regions of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and
Kokum is native to the western
coastal regions of southern India and is rarely seen beyond this area.
Although for generations a crucial culinary and medicinal
ingredient for communities along the Western coast, only now are kokum’s myriad health benefits receiving focused scientific
In addition to garnishing curries and soups, kokum has been
employed for its astringent, cardiotonic, anti-allergic and
Kokum is dark
purple to black, sticky and with curled edges. The fruit is often halved
and dried, so that the dried seeds are visible in their chambers like a
citrus fruit. It is usually available as a dried rind, resembling a
thick plum skin. When added to food it imparts a pink to purple color
and sweet/sour taste.
Bouquet: a slightly sweet and sour aroma.
Flavor: a refreshing sour taste, slightly astringent
Kokum has the same souring qualities as tamarind, especially
enhancing coconut-based curries or vegetable dishes like potatoes, okra
or lentils. Kokum is especially used with fish curries, three or four
skins being enough to season an average dish. It is also included in
chutneys and pickles. The skins are not usually chopped but are added
whole to the dish. Seasoning should be checked as they are quite salty.
Beware of biting on a stone as a few are often left in the skins.
Attributed Medicinal Properties
As mentioned in the
introduction, kokumís refrigerant properties are well known. It is
useful as an infusion, or by direct application, in skin ailments such
as rashes caused by allergies. Kokum butter is an emollient helpful in
the treatment of burns, scalds and chaffed skin.
In addition, kokum seeds yield a unique fat used to make
ointments, suppositories, lipsticks and chocolates.
The fruits are steeped
in sugar syrup to make amrutkokum which is drunk to relieve sunstroke.
Kokum is well known to counteract the heat.
Economic Times, India, 7 March 2005