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The Malabar tamarind - Kokum

Kokum is a  ornamental fruit tree native to India specifically the western ghats and has been used by the people of Kerala, Karnataka, & Maharashtra as as both spice and medicine since ages.

Kokum Prakrti fruit

Garcinia indica or Kokum is a tiny fruit which turns from red to deep purple as it ripens, and is harvested and dried. The dried rind of the fruit has a somewhat sour taste but a faint, slightly sweet aroma and is used as a culinary and medicinal agent. It is almost black and tinged with purple, has gnarly edges, and is slightly sticky.

It contains B complex vitamins such as niacin, thiamin and folic acid plus high levels of Vitamin C; it is a good source of magnesium, potassium and manganese and has high levels of Hydroxy Citric Acid (cambogia is the only other known source of HCA) which helps with weight loss.

Ayurvedic practitioners have long used kokum to treat a variety of aliments such as sores, prevent infection, improve digestion, alleviate diarrhea and constipation, lessen arthritis pain, cure ear infections and heal stomach ulcers.

Garcinol is another major ingredient of Kokum and it has the following properties:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-carcinogenic agent
  • Neuroprotective having a positive effect in regulating Alzheimer’s disease.

Kokum is used extensively by people along the Konkan coast and also in parts of Maharashtra and Kerala where it provides an alternative to tamarind as a souring agents in many of the dishes. It is most popularly used in Kerala in their local fish curries. 

Kokum is on of the very few fruits that have a wide variety of uses apart from just it's multiple uses as a medicine or spice. It is also used to create kokum butter which is an emollient similar to cocoa butter, is often used in cosmetics such as lipsticks, moisturizing creams, conditioners and soaps. Additionally it is also used to make sweet juice concentrate which is used in the preparation of other drinks and juices.

Do you have any story on how you use Kokum, then comment below.


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