To start with this wonder fruit, I should introduce its plant, benefit, procedure to preserve the outer skin, to rest of the world. Kokum is belonging to Guttiferae family, same as mangosteen and its botanical name is Garcinia Indica, is a fruit bearing plant only found in western Ghats and coastal southern India.
(pic source : From, Vidya lakshmi of SAHAJA FARMS )
It is a summer fruit, which is widely used for juices or Rasam in our region to quench thirst as well as to balance body heat. It has so many health benefits as well. It is a natural healer for acidity.
It is a ritual in our native to dry the outer skin in summer months to preserve to use whenever it is needed. Fresh fruit of Kokum is often halved, discard the inner pulpy white part which is a fleshy coating of real seed to make Kokum butter, which is used in medicinal as well as cosmetic products as a raw material. Then outer dark maroon skin will be sun dried and when it becomes crispy, it’s stored in an air tight manner. During this process, we used to prepare fresh pulp to make juice and I used to love fresh juice from its inner pulp. It is much tastier than the outer dried skin juice.
The seed kernels which are coated with white flesh (fruit) has oil content, which is solid at room temperature. When I was young, our grand mom used to prepare kokum butter from these seeds and it used to be like a wax ball and she always used to keep this ball in hand’s reach to treat any accidental burns (that time, cooking was much more tedious and burning episodes were very frequent, due to fire wood cooking). She used to hold the ball against the fire for 2 min, oil used to start dripping and she used to apply this over the wound. She used to say, in this way, healing is very fast, and it acts as a coolant on burning wound as well. I have one kokum butter ball with me, which she has prepared almost 20 years back and when my kids were small, Amma has handed this wonder medicine to me by saying, keep this ball for emergency and it is still with me as a souvenir. ( Seen in below picture)
In urban dwellings, it is sold as a dried rind, dark purple, little sticky and shiny with curved edges. If you infuse these dried skins in water, it releases very nice colour. If dried skin is darker, you will get darkish pink and if it is little old and turned black, your dish will become dark and pale in colour. Taste wise it is tangy like tamarind and used exactly like tamarind in cooking to give tart taste.
If you want to prepare Rasam you need hardly 7 to 8 dried rind or if you want to add to any curry, you need very less, hardly 2 or 3 rinds according to the requirement. It is usually used, without any chopping.
Thanks for reading, I appreciate your patience. Now we will see the procedure of our traditional recipe for simple Rasam by using dried rind or kokum concentration.
Dried Kokum – 7 to 8 (If you are using kokum extract or pulp, use 2 to 3 table spoons)
Onion – 1 big
Red chilli powder – 1 to 2 tea spoons
Jaggery – As needed
Coconut oil – 1 table spoon
Mustard- 1 tea spoon
Red chilli – 1
Garlic – 8 to 10
Curry leaves – 1 spring
-Soak kokum in sufficient water for 1 to 2 hours.
-When you boil, add sliced onion, red chilli powder, salt, jaggery (I prefer little sweetish Rasam, so usually I add little more)
-When onion cooks, do seasoning.
-heat oil, splutter mustard, red chilli, curry leaves and add crushed garlic.
-When garlic turns brown, add this to Rasam and close the lid for 2 minutes.
-Serve hot with rice or drink as an appetizer.