KOKUM or, Garcinia indica is known by various names across India, including aamsol, aamsul, bindin, biran, bhirand, bhrinda, brinda, bin’na, kokum,katambi, looikya, sour apple, panarpuli, ratamba, thekera (in Assam) and many others.
The outer cover of fruit is dried in the sun to get aamsul or kokam. It is used as a slightly sour spice in recipes from Maharashtra. Kokum yields a peculiar flavour and blackish red-purple colour.
Kokum squash or kokum concentrate is used in preparing a drink which is bright red in colour. As a drink it cools the body during summers.
The extract/ concentrate of this fruit is called aagal in Marathi. It is added during the preparation of Solkadhi, along with freshly squeezed coconut milk and other spices.
In this form, the curry works more like an appetizer as well as a digestive and is therefore served in tall glasses at the beginning and end of meals.
The best combinations for this kadhi is white boiled rice and fried fish.
The following is a tried tested and perfected recipe of my own….
Prep time: 10 minutes + 2 for Tadka
1 fresh grated coconut. In today’s age of convenience, feel free to use an easily available tetrapak of coconut milk or cream.
6-8 Kokum rinds
2 garlic petals
4-5 black peppercorns
3-4 slit green chillies
1 generous pinch of Asafoetida. This is one of my favourite spices. I cant cook without my Hing.
A few corainder sprigs. (Another of my kitchen staples)
In a serving bowl or jar, mix Kokum, Salt, Asafoetida, slit green chillies, roughly chopped or bruised garlic flakes and 1/4 cup water. At this stage i just get downright dirty, put in my hands and cudgel the whole mixture throughly.
You will see the kokum leaving colour and the mixture getting reddish in color. Leave to rest while we get the rest ready…
1) If using grated coconut:
Toss coconut, peppercorns, water in a grinder. Keep adding water from time to time to obtain the coconut milk. Strain the coconut milk into the above mixture. Grind the strained coconut again with water until there is no more milk and the coconut has run dry.
2) If using a Tetrapak or canned coconut milk:
Just dunk the contents into the above mixture. Add water to get the right texture.
A tadka or tempering can take your recipe from good to great. But be careless about your combinations and amount of heat and it can ruin your dish.
Ingredients for a bloody good Tadka…
1 spoon of clarified butter (ghee)
1 pinch asafoetida
4-5 fresh curry leaves (optional)
A good pinch of Ajwain (Carom seeds)
Heat clarified butter in a skillet.
Add the Asafoetida and then the carom seeds. Take care not to burn it. If the mixture begins smoking turn off the heat immedately.
Add the curry leaves. Give them a moment to splutter and toss the whole thing into the Coconut Kokum mixture.
Then, a good mix with a ladle and we are good to go!
NOTE: There are many different combinations you could try in your Tadka but the one listed here is my personal favourite. I love the smoky flavour of Carom seeds and a good reason to use them is that they aid metabolism and digestion. Which makes it great for the family.
As options, one could use mustard seeds or Cumin seeds with Asafoetida and omit the curry leaves completely. You could also use dry red chillies and teppal for a completely different flavour. Similarly, using a small piece of Ginger while grinding the coconut will add body to the Sol kadhi.
The whole process of ANY successful tempering shouldnt take more than 2 minutes. The lesser the better.