Unknown Health Benefits of Kokum & Recipes You Should Try

  kokum The revival in popularity of traditional medicine has brought back the spotlight on many indigenous plants used for centuries in our country. One such plant is Kokum or Garcinia indica. Also known as Malabar Tamarind, it is said to be an antibiotic with no side effects. It grows along the western coast and the north-eastern part of India, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The fruit of the kokum tree is used for making a cooling drink and the peel of the fruit is used as a souring agent. Oil extracted from the seeds is used in the cosmetics, confectionary and medicine industries. Kokum is well known and widely used in the western and southern parts of the country. While it is easily available in these areas the fresh fruit is not found in other parts of the country. It is tart in taste with a sweet aroma. It is usually not eaten raw. Other than in traditional medicine, the fruit is used in cooking and as a spice. The juice is used to make a drink popular in the areas where it is grown and used. Kokum is now becoming known in the areas where it is not normally grown and its benefits are being realised by people everywhere. Kokum has many health and medicinal benefits. The fruit has been used as natural remedies for sores, arthritis, ear infection and much more. It is said to be extremely effective as an agent of weight loss. It has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which are made use of for treating various disorders. Kokum butter is also an important ingredient used in the cosmetic industry. Some of the uses of kokum are as follows: 1. As an anti-oxidant: The kokum fruit is a rich source of vitamin C which is a strong anti-oxidant. The antioxidant action of vitamin C helps to neutralise the free radicals in our bodies which form due to ongoing biochemical reactions or due to polluting factors in the environment. These free radicals are unstable and attack the healthy cells in the body and oxidise them. In the long-term, this causes the organs in the body to breakdown. By neutralising these free radicals, anti-oxidants help the cells in the body to stay healthy for longer and in turn prevent the organs of the body from degenerating. This delays the ageing process and helps us stay younger for longer. shutterstock_240168223 2. As a digestive aid: The kokum fruit is low in sugar and calories and high in fibre. It is used to provide relief from constipation. It is also useful in cases of flatulence, stomach pain, gaseous distension and is used to combat acidity and indigestion. It has been used by Ayurvedic physicians to heal stomach ulcers. It is also known to kill parasitic worms in the stomach. Dried kokum can be taken with a pinch of salt and dried ginger as a cure for indigestion. 3. As a weight loss agent: The juice of the kokum fruit contains a compound called HCA (hydroxyl citric acid). This compound is the main ingredient that makes kokum so effective as a weight loss agent. HCA inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates into fats. Then, it suppresses the activity of the enzymes that synthesise fatty acids and transform sugars into triglycerides and lipids. This ensures that fat production in the body is reduced. In addition, it also acts as an appetite suppressant further aiding weight loss. 4. As an anti-allergic: Kokum has been traditionally used as a treatment for rashes and sores. As kokum combats hyperacidity in the body, it prevents sores that occur due to acidity. It contains a compound called garcinol which is anti-allergic in nature. Hence, kokum in the diet reduces chances of an allergic reaction to food in some people. Kokum extract is applied topically to allergic rashes on the skin and is quite effective in providing relief. 5. As a coolant:  The juice of kokum is used to make a cooling drink or sherbet which is usually sold in the concentrated form. It is a lovely purplish red in colour and looks very attractive. In the hot and humid months of summer, it counteracts the heat and prevents dehydration. It is also very good for people suffering from heatstroke. The nutrients present make it a very healthy drink as well. In addition to vitamin C, it contains a good amount of the B vitamins like thiamine, niacin and folates. Minerals like potassium, magnesium and manganese, which perform important functions in the body, are present in good amounts in the juice of kokum. shutterstock_500903881 6. As a skin nourisher:  Kokum seed contains twenty to twenty-five percent oil. This oil is edible. It remains solid at room temperature as it has a relatively high melting point and is known as kokum butter. Kokum butter is very good for treating cracked heels and is believed to promote skin elasticity, prevent dryness of skin and restore damaged skin. It is refined for use in the cosmetic industry and it is blended with other ingredients to make lotions, creams, soaps and other toiletries. It can be easily spread, is non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin. It is less prone to oxidation and contains vitamin E (which is an anti-oxidant) and is sometimes also used as a substitute for cocoa butter. 7. As a confectionary ingredient: The high melting point of kokum butter is ideal for use in the manufacture of chocolates in the warmer climates.   Kokum is an important ingredient in the kitchens of southern and western India. It is used as a souring agent. It is sometimes used as a substitute for tamarind. Kokum fruits are dried and the rind sold. It is dark purple in colour, sticky and with curled edges. The darker the colour of the rind the better is the quality of kokum. It can be stored in an airtight jar for about a year. It goes well with coconut based curries and vegetables like okra, potatoes and brinjals. It is used with fish curry and lentils and is great in chutneys and pickles. Here are some recipes using kokum that you can try: 1. Sol Kadhi or Kokum Juice Ingredients: 10-15 pieces of kokum, 2 green chillies – finely chopped, 1.5 cup coconut milk, salt, a sprig of coriander. For tempering: 1 tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 10 curry leaves, 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped, 2 whole red chillies. Method: Soak the kokum rinds and green chillies in a cup of water for an hour. Crush the rinds (with your hands for best results) once well-soaked. Add another cup of water to the extract which should be reddish pink in colour. Add the coconut milk to the extract. Add salt to taste and keep aside. Heat oil in a pan, temper with cumin and mustard. Then add chopped garlic, curry leaves and red chillies. Fry for a minute and pour over the kokum extract prepared earlier. Garnish with coriander and serve chilled. This spicy sour juice is served with lunch or dinner and is a digestion aid and coolant besides being a palate cleanser. kokum-sherbet-from-scratch 2. Kokum Rasam Ingredients: 7 or 8 pieces of kokum, a large piece of jaggery, 0.5 tsp. mustard seeds, 0.5 tsp. cumin seeds, 3 whole red dry chillies, 10 curry leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp. ghee, a pinch of asafoetida, salt to taste. Method: Soak kokum in a cup water for half an hour. Add two cups of water to the soaked kokum and boil for about ten minutes. Add salt and jaggery and boil some more. Adjust the seasoning and add water if it is too sour. Heat ghee in a pan and when hot, temper with cumin, mustard, asafoetida, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Pour the ghee on the rasam and cover immediately. This goes well with steamed rice. 3. Lentils with Kokum (Goan style) Ingredients: 2 cups toor dal, 2 kokum pieces, turmeric powder, salt, 1 cup grated coconut, 1 onion, 1tbsp. cumin powder, 4 garlic cloves. For tempering, 0.5 tsp. mustard seeds and cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic, 2 green chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, 2 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil. Method: Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric for four whistles. Blend together coconut, onion, garlic and cumin seeds to form a paste. Add the paste and kokum pieces to the cooked dal. Add some warm water to adjust the thickness and keep on heat for some more time. Temper with ghee, cumin, mustard, curry leaves, green chillies, garlic and asafoetida. Pour this over the dal. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or roti. 4. Kokum Sherbet Ingredients: Kokum pieces – 1 cup approx., 1.5 cups sugar, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, black salt to taste, few mint leaves, pinch of citric acid Method: Soak kokum in enough water to just cover them and keep aside for an hour. Add sugar to a cup of water and heat to make a syrup. Take the kokum and grind in a mixer with a little water to make a paste. Add the paste to the cooled sugar syrup. Strain through a strainer and discard the pulp left behind. Add cumin powder, black salt, citric acid and mix. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can add mint leaves to the sherbet before storing. To serve the sherbet, add two tbsp. sherbet mixture to a glass and form a juice with chilled water. Decorate with mint leaves and serve. A few things to remember if you are eating food containing kokum. Avoid taking milk and milk products for an hour after eating kokum in any form. If suffering from a cough, then, too, kokum is to be avoided. [shopify embed_type="collection" shop="nutritownbygrow.myshopify.com" product_handle="wordpress"]

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