Kokum Plant Thrives in Tropical Climate:
Kokum is the common name for Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family. The plant is a native to the Western Ghats of India which is also called the Konkan coast or the Malabar coast. The tropical climate creates the perfect condition for the healthy growth of the plant. However the plant may survive in relatively temperate conditions. The plant bears bright red fruits and dense green leaves which mature from a shade of red.
Kokum - The Tamarind of Malabar Coast:
It is not for nothing that Kokum is known as the Tamarind of the Malabar coast. The outer covering of the spice is dried and used as a spice, while the fruit it used as a souring agent, consumed either fresh or preserved. The spice is known by the name of bhirand , and the fruit concentrate as aagai in Konkani
Application of the Kokum Fruit:
The sweetish sour fruit is preserved with sugar and sold as bottled squash.The sherbet is bright red in color and is a popular energy booster.
The fruit concentrate is known as aagai in the Konkani and Marathi languages. It is a common ingredient in the preparation of solkadhi, a popular curry from the region.
Application of the Spice:
Kokum is used as a substitute to tamarind in traditional Konkan dishes. The spice has a characteristic flavor of its own and imparts a reddish black color to the preparation.
The distinct color and taste is a common feature in a number of authentic recipes from the Malabar coast. The spice is a regular ingredient in the preparation of fish and lentil soup.
Miscellaneous Uses of Kokum:
The application of the spice as a home remedy for stomach disorders and common cold is a common practice is most households. The medication is administered through soaking some pieces of the dry spice in water for a few hours. Later the the soaked kokum pieces may be mashed and mixed with the water and consumed.
The seeds of the fruit contains about 25% of oil. The oil remains in the solid state at room temperature and hence finds application in the manufacture of a number of confectioneries and cosmetics. The oily extract of the tree is known to be therapeutic in the treatment of aches, bruises and burns.
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